The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that some former members of the now-defunct US-backed Afghan government’s intelligence and military forces have joined the local ISIS affiliate, known as ISIS-K.
The Journal cited people who knew several men who joined up with ISIS-K after the US withdrawal. The report said the number of defectors who joined ISIS-K is “relatively small” but continues to grow.
The former Afghan government fighters joined ISIS-K out of fear of the Taliban hunting them down. Responding to the report, the Taliban pointed to the general amnesty they declared for former Afghan government officials.
“The Islamic Emirate announced general amnesty and no one including the former security forces should worry about their personal security,” said Taliban Interior Ministry spokesman Sayed Khosti using a formal name for the Taliban-led government.
ISIS-K is essentially the only organized force that is fighting against the Taliban, and the terrorist group has launched several attacks since the US withdrawal. The Taliban have accepted US assistance against ISIS-K in the past but are now insisting they don’t need any foreign assistance to deal with the group.
“We are not faced with a threat nor are we worried about them,” Mawlawi Zubair, a senior Taliban commander, told the Journal. “There is no need, not even a tiny need, for us to seek assistance from anyone against ISIS.”
On Monday, the Taliban said 34 ISIS-K fighters in the eastern Nangarhar province switched sides and joined the Taliban. According to Nangarhar’s provincial intelligence department, 149 ISIS-K members have switched allegiance to the Taliban so far.