Russia Raises Alarm About Afghan ISIS Buildup on Northern Border

Intel chief warns fighters threaten former Soviet states

Just back from a visit to Tajikistan, Russian intelligence chief Alexander Bortnikov has expressed serious concern about what he called a major ISIS buildup along the northern border of Afghanistan.

Bortnikov reported some 5,000 ISIS fighters were at the border, which raises a major risk of spillover into former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Russia has military bases in many of those nations, and has security agreements with them.

Though ISIS has a substantial amount of territory in Afghanistan, it is mostly in the southeast, in Nangarhar Province. They have rarely been reported to have any territory in northern Afghanistan, as the Taliban has run them out of several areas.

Making this a bigger concern that usual, Bartnikov says that many of the ISIS fighters in the area are the ones that fought in Syria. The loss of ISIS forces in Syria may have led to this shift into northern Afghanistan, and Russia is urging Central Asian nations to impose tighter border control to keep them out of the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.