Pentagon officials are increasingly willing to discuss the growth of ISIS into Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, saying it is an expansion “of great concern” to US commanders there.
Spokesman Rear Admiral Kirby downplayed the significance of the current ISIS presence there, saying the movement is largely “aspirational,” and that some of them are just Taliban trying to rebrand themselves for the sake of more support.
Other Pentagon commanders are less sure about that, saying there is a serious danger that the Afghan-Pakistan border region could serve as another safe haven from which ISIS could recruit.
The reports we’ve seen of ISIS activity in Afghanistan so far center around Helmand Province, with a group of former Taliban commanders who have defected to the group, and have been fighting with both Afghan forces and the Taliban themselves to try to establish a significant foothold.
Whether ISIS will ultimately be successful remains to be seen, but the group does seem to be successful in recruiting defectors into their forces, and have set up shop in Libya and Egypt. Afghanistan may be next.