13+ years of NATO occupation hasn’t put a dent in Taliban unity, but they could be facing a new foreign challenge, as the success of ISIS has some of their top commanders green with envy.
It’s not hard to see why. ISIS went from one-of-many rebel groups in Syria to a de facto nation awash in cash and with total control over a number of major cities across Iraq and Syria. By contrast, the Taliban hasn’t achieved much.
The view of ISIS as having the winning formula has some Taliban commanders looking to defect and set up their own ISIS cells, bringing the caliphate’s franchise to Afghanistan. They’ve been reported off and on as active in Helmand, fighting both Afghan forces and the Taliban themselves.
How big this new faction is remains unclear, as is how close they actually are to the ISIS leadership in Syria. Pakistan reported capturing a local ISIS commander today, however, suggesting the problem is getting bigger.
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