Taliban Reportedly Dismantled Islamic State Bases in Western Afghanistan

Taliban security forces in Afghanistan have reportedly killed an Islamic State operative and captured several others during overnight raids on the militant group’s bases near the border with Iran.  

“important network” of the regional branch of Islamic State known as Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, said a Taliban-affiliated media outlet Friday.  

The network was involved in some of the recent attacks on the Shi’ite Muslim community in Afghanistan, according to Al-Mersaad, which is tasked to counter IS-K propaganda in the country and report on Taliban counterterrorism operations against the group.  

Using a local acronym for the group, Al-Mersaad noted that “some of the arrested ISKP members are highly important.”

It was not possible to verify the claims from independent sources and Taliban government officials rarely comment on reports published by the state media outlet.  

US Concerns

The United States, in recent statements, has described IS-K as a significant threat to regional security, warning the group could soon launch an international attack from Afghan bases.  

On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden attempted to address those concerns in a letter he wrote to Congress.

“United States military personnel remain postured outside Afghanistan to address threats to the United States homeland and United States interests that may arise from inside Afghanistan,” Biden said without elaborating.  

Taliban authorities reject U.S. concerns, claiming their security forces have significantly degraded IS-K’s abilities to prevent it from posing a threat to Afghanistan or beyond.

Al-Mersaad recently published details and pictures of what it said were the “top 12 leaders/officials” of IS-K who were killed by Taliban special forces this year.  

Last week, the U.S. State Department said in its annual report that IS-K continued to conduct terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians, particularly members of the Shi’ite community and the Taliban.  

“In 2022, ISIS-K conducted cross-border attacks in Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and maintained ambitions to attack the West,” the report noted, using an acronym for the regional Islamic State affiliate.  

“While the Taliban committed to preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan to conduct attacks against the United States and its allies, its ability to prevent al-Qa’ida elements, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and ISIS-K from mounting external operations remained unclear,” the report said.  

It added that the Taliban had hosted and sheltered al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, the Afghan capital, before he died in a U.S. airstrike on July 30, 2022. The Taliban have refused to comment on the allegations to date, saying the matter remains under investigation.

The Islamist Taliban seized power from an American-backed government in August 2021, when all U.S. and NATO troops withdrew from Afghanistan after two decades of war with the then-insurgent Taliban. 

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