Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

ISIL Should Not be Downplayed in Afghanistan

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ISIL Should Not be Downplayed in Afghanistan

The self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has filled the air with fear as reports say that the ISIL fighters gained firm foothold in the country after losing ground in Iraq and Syria. The ISIL is likely to recruit the youths in Afghanistan through spreading its propaganda and foisting their radical mindsets upon individuals in tribal belts and remote areas. There are many tribal areas prone to radical mentalities and militancy.
A number of ISIL’s high-ranking individuals are said to enter Afghan soil to organize systematic attacks against Afghan government and extend the realm of its militancy in more areas and districts. The ISIL group intends to recruit and train Afghan youths and children so as to use them as war shield. Needless to say, the children coming from poor and radical backgrounds will easily succumb to the bogus claims of the ISIL fighters. It is believed that spreading propaganda has been one of the highly effective strategy of the ISIL group in recruiting people, including women, from around the world. With its surface, the ISIL group launched spreading propaganda online and attracted many people from eastern and western world. The ISIL’s propaganda was strongly painted with the brush of religion and sanctity. The group’s black flag which carried the sacred term “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is the Prophet of Allah” misled many individuals. Hence, it still seeks to apply the same strategy in Afghanistan so as to recruit people. The question is that will people fall for the bogus claim of the ISIL fighters which are widely known and condemned for spilling the blood of innocent individuals?
In tribal areas of Afghanistan, mainly where the Taliban dominated for years and applied their radical Sharia, people have been radicalized to some extent and will simply fall for a claim that is tinged with Islamic Sharia without realizing the true fact. For instance, the Taliban have been very successful in recruiting people from tribal belts. They imposed their warped minds on youths and children in seminaries and gained the trust of locals to send their children to their seminaries. This way, the Taliban did not only recruit youths but also changed the mindset of locals through wrong preaches. Even the Taliban changed the tradition of people. So, now a number of areas are left at the mercy of radicalism and people will succumb to ISIL’s propaganda.
It is believed that there is a splinter group of the Taliban that does not practice upon the orders of Mullah Omar’s second successor Mullah Haibatullah. This faction might have pledged allegiance to the ISIL fighters in Afghanistan. That is to say, there are mixed reports about the relation between ISIL and the Taliban. On the one hand, it is said that the two factions exchange sporadic, bloody battles, but on the other hand, it is reported that the Taliban allied with ISIL. However, this suggests the fact that the Taliban’s splinter group has pledged loyalty to the ISIL fighters; whereas the main group is in conflict with it.
To one’s unmitigated chagrin, the ISIL fighters gained a sudden and swift foothold in Afghanistan. That is to say, the trace of ISIL was found sooner than expected. The question is that have the ISIL fighters, who were mostly unfamiliar with Afghanistan’s geo-politics, gained a swift foothold in the country without being supported by the Taliban? The answer is negative. The primary reports about the presence of ISIL in Afghanistan said that a number of the Taliban pledged loyalty to Al-Baghdadi’s caliphate and changed their white flag into black one. After the revelation of Mullah Omar’s death and appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansour as his successor, which was followed by a strong disagreement, scores of members of the Taliban allied themselves with the ISIL fighters. This issue paved the ground for the presence of ISIL in the country.
Subsequently, the ISIL fighters gained firm foothold and ushered in their terrorist activities. Aiming to foment sectarian violence, the ISIL fighters and loyalists targeted ethnic minority groups, mosques, and mourning proceedings. They sought to fuel sectarian tension in Afghanistan so as to gain the support of a certain ethnic group and mobilize it against the others, which was proved abortive. However, the second tactic is to spread propaganda and poison the minds of youths that will be perilous. Despite losing ground in Iraq and Syria, the ISIL faction is able to carry out large-scale attacks in the country and has changed into a serious threat to national security.

To defeat the ISIL fighters, the state needs to beware people of its propaganda and urge Ulema Council and all religious scholars to preach against the radical and anti-Islamic practices of this group. If the clergy campaign against ISIL and condemn its activities, it will not be able to extend its realm in the country. It is the responsibility of both states and nation, including religious scholars, to campaign against this terrorist group so as to safeguard the national security.   

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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