WASHINGTON: The commander of US forces in Afghanistan has warned that the Islamic State (IS) terror group is making recruitment in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We are seeing reports of some recruiting,” said Gen John Campbell, commander of the Resolute Support mission, during an interview with the US Army Times newspaper.
“There have been some night letter drops, there have been reports of people trying to recruit both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, quite frankly.”
The Resolute Support is the name given to the new mission of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan who are now assisting Afghan security forces. The change, however, does not prevent them from engaging those who attack them or target major Afghan defence installations.
US and Nato forces can also combat terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Gen Campbell said the IS group, which had a “hard message to sell” in Afghanistan, but there were concerns that the group had the potential to spread its message in the country and in neighbouring Pakistan.
“The Taliban have their allegiance to Mullah Omar and a different philosophy and ideology than ISIS, but, potentially, there are people who are disgruntled with the Taliban, they haven’t seen [Taliban commander] Mullah Omar in years, or they want to go a different way,” he said.
Those disgruntled with the Taliban leadership could be “vulnerable to the ISIS message, and so we’re looking at it very hard”, Gen Campbell said.
Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, has also voiced his concerns about possible IS activity in his country.
But Gen Campbell said US and Afghan authorities had so far seen “only bits and pieces” of this group in Afghanistan.
“We’re doing deep dives into it to make sure we’re seeing everything. I’ve made it a priority intelligence requirement for my staff, but I have not seen a whole bunch of it yet, to tell you the truth.”
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2015