Amidst reports that the ISIS in Afghanistan has been making inroads, the ISI is now attempting to bring on board ISIS fighters to merge with the Taliban.
The ISIS has in the past week taken the fight up to the Taliban and this has sent the ISI which controls the Taliban into a tizzy. [Did Kerala journalist join ISIS?]
The Taliban is battling its own crisis following the death of Mullah Omar two years back which was only announced recently. The new leader Mullah Mansoor has not been entirely acceptable to the Taliban and the concerns of factions growing is looming large.
ISIS taking the fight to Taliban
The Taliban if reports are to be believed has lost heavily in several parts. The number of persons holding up the flag of the ISIS has increased in numbers.
A recent video in which the ISIS shows the beheading of a Taliban commander is also another sign that the outfit is trying to replicate its Iraq and Syria success. [ISIS trying to strike India story rubbished by Intelligence Bureau]
The ISIS is however taking things slow in Afghanistan and it would want more locals in its fold rather than it send men across. The ISIS has relied heavily on the warring factions within the Taliban.
An estimate would suggest that at least 60 per cent of its fighters in Afghanistan are former Taliban members.
The presence of the ISIS growing in Afghanistan was even confirmed by General Philip Breedlove of the United States who said that the ISIS is an emergent threat which now occupies pockets in numerous places around the nation.
The growth at Nangarhar
The ISIS has made large strides in the eastern province of Nangahar which is along the Pakistan border. This was confirmed by Zahi Qadir, a leader at Nagarhar.
While referring to the ISIS as Daesh, he said that the locals have been told to take up arms. The Daesh refers to the Taliban as enemies and has been orchestrating violence in the region, the leader also said.
In addition to this the ISIS has also banned girls from going to schools in Nagarhar. Un-married women are being instructed to marry the ISIS fighters. There is a sense of fear among the residents of this province, Qadir says.
Further proof of the clout that the ISIS is enjoying in this province is the fact that the beheading of 10 men believed to be Taliban fighters took place at the Achin district in the same province.
ISI in firefighting mode
For the ISI, the ISIS is not good news. Unlike the Taliban or the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the ISIS will not succumb to becoming a mere proxy for the ISI. The ISI today has deputed a batch of its best officers to hold talks with the former members of the Taliban who have joined the ISIS in Afghanistan.
They are being told to either return to the Taliban or merge with it.
For the moment the ISI has not managed any success on this front and most of the Taliban leaders who had quit the outfit do not seem interested to return. Since the death of Mullah Omar there have been several splits in the Taliban.
The ISIS provides a united front which the former members of the Taliban are happy being part of, at least for now.