A US Chinook helicopter flies over the US Embassy in Kabul on the day Taliban forces entered the capital on 15 August, 2021. (Photo credit: AP/Rahmat Gul)
New reports by western media outlets claim that a growing number of US-trained spies and military personnel are joining the ranks of ISIS in Afghanistan after being left behind following Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from the country earlier this year.
“In some areas, ISIS has become very attractive [to former members of Afghan security and defense forces] who have been left behind,” the former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Rahmatullah Nabil, told The Wall Street Journal.
This wave of new recruits brings “critical expertise” for the armed group, specifically in regards to intelligence gathering and combat techniques, bolstering ISIS capabilities to fight Taliban forces.
Since the disastrous end of the 20-year US war in the country back in August, ISIS has carried out several suicide bombings targeting Taliban members and civilians, in an apparent bid to sow terror in the country just as the interim government seeks international recognition.
The report goes on to say that the US-trained soldiers sought refuge within the ranks of ISIS after the Taliban searched their homes and demanded that they present themselves to authorities.
According to an investigative report by The Cradle, in the days following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the group set up “a complex, targeted operation” to prevent members of a CIA-sponsored “shadow army” from leaving the country.
Many of these shadow operatives, numbering in the thousands and belonging to the NDS and to the Khost Protection Force (KPF), were then abandoned in the country, leaving them little option but to join the armed group which often receives direct support from Washington.
The news comes just days after the US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Colin Kahl, warned that ISIS fighters in Afghanistan are less than a year away from being able to launch a direct attack against the West.
“We could see ISIS-K generate that capability in somewhere between six or 12 months, according to current assessments,” Kahl told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 26 October, adding that “And for al Qaeda, it would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability. We have to remain vigilant against that possibility.”