Afghan Intelligence Service spokesman Khalil Hamraz (R), and Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid participate in a press conference in Kabul, 10 November 2021. (Photo credit: Hector Retamal/AFPIntelligence)
Taliban officials announced on 10 November that hundreds of ISIS fighters have been arrested in Afghanistan since the country’s new rulers came to power in mid-August.
According to General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) spokesman Khalil Hamraz, around 600 “members or sympathizers” of ISIS have been arrested, while as many as 33 of their commanders have been killed in the country in recent months.
The Taliban intelligence spokesman also said that most ISIS fighters were trained by the former US-backed government, putting their number in the country at about 1,800.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, Zabihullah Mujahid, said during the same press conference that ISIS activities in Afghanistan “are under control,” and that the Taliban will not allow the armed group to “threaten the world from Afghan soil.”
“The number of [ISIS fighters] in Afghanistan is not large and therefore is not considered a threat,” Mujahid added, later saying that the group and its “takfiri” ideology has no support from the Afghan people.
The Deputy Minister of Information went on to add that, unlike its counterparts operating across West Asia, the ISIS cell active in Afghanistan is mostly made up of local fighters.
This comes amid reports that former members of a CIA-sponsored shadow army, who were apparently abandoned in Afghanistan after the chaotic withdrawal of US troops, have been joining the ranks of the so-called ISIS-Khorasan.
In recent weeks, ISIS fighters have been intensifying terror attacks, openly targeting Taliban members as well as Shia mosques in various regions of the country.
Several days ago, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s National Military Hospital which left 19 dead and over 50 injured.