Most Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan are TTP men: top US commander

Published: August 1, 2016
Many IS fighters were from Orakzai Agency and had been forced out of Pakistan due to Operation Zarb-e-Azb PHOTO: REUTERS

Many IS fighters were from Orakzai Agency and had been forced out of Pakistan due to Operation Zarb-e-Azb PHOTO: REUTERS

Top US commander General John W Nicholson has said almost 70 per cent of Islamic State (IS) fighters in Afghanistan are Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) men.

“In the case of Islamic State Khorasan province, the majority of the members are from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has been the anti-Pakistan government Taliban,” the general said while briefing Washington-based journalists at the Pentagon.

Islamic State now poses real threat to Afghanistan’s security

Nicholson, who commands the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said many of the fighters were Pakistani Pashtun from Orakzai Agency and had been forced out of Pakistan by the ongoing military offensive, Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

“In the case of the IS fighters in southern Nangahar, we see that many of them come from the Orakzai Agency, which is south of Nangahar — actually, south of the Khyber Agency.  And they were former members of the TTP, complete with their leadership, who wholesale joined Islamic State, pledged bayat (allegiance) to Islamic State and joined them earlier this year,” General Nicholson said. The commander went on to say that President Obama had identified Islamic State, Daesh, as one of the top security threats to US.

Speaking about US and Afghan joint offensive against the militant group, he said, “Since January, their area has shrunk to about three or four districts — parts of three or four districts in southern Nangarhar.”

According to Gen Nicholson, Saturday’s suicide attack in Kabul, which killed upwards of 80 people who were participating in a peaceful demonstration, was carried out by IS.

Afghan Taliban seek Chinese role in talks

The US commander identified IS as only one of nine US designated terrorist organisations in Afghanistan.  “Additionally there are three other violent extremist organisations.” The general also gave a rough count of IS fighters in the country. “This number that originally was 3,000, we think has been roughly cut in half.  We estimate them between — now between 1,000 and 1,500 at the present time.”

Nicholson also spoke about Mullah Mansour’s death, saying the Taliban had been disrupted. “We assess the Taliban have been disrupted by the death of Mullah Mansour that occurred on the 21st of May, and that this disruption, even though they would like us to believe that they recovered from this quickly, they appointed their new leader Haibatullah within one week.”

“But in fact, many of the tensions that existed in the Taliban under Mansour have, if anything, been exacerbated further with the rapid succession of Haibatullah,” he added. He also informed that Mansour had misdirected a lot of the Taliban revenues for his own purposes.

General Nicholson also gave an account of the air strikes carried out in Afghanistan. “Since January, we’ve conducted about 470 airstrikes, just to give you a rollup. Of counter-terrorist strikes — specific counter-terrorist strikes, about 180.  Under the new authorities, which are called strategic effects, which have been in effect since early June, about 40 airstrikes, plus or minus.”

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Hakim Afghani
    Aug 1, 2016 - 11:05AM

    And 90% of Afghan Taliban are from Quetta and Peshawar which makes them Pakistani also!Recommend

  • FAZ
    Aug 1, 2016 - 11:19AM

    Another acceptance of failure of NATO and its allies. Would it not have been better to seal the border when Zarbe Azb was in full swing and Pakistan was crying out loud that no action is being taken by NATO? One should not expect anything but ranting from the Afghans, but NATO and US should have taken measures.Recommend

  • Khwaja
    Aug 1, 2016 - 11:22AM

    Why don’t we ever see articles on weapons suppliers that run these wars and how tbey are funded ? I think there should a regular page on this issue. Recommend

  • FAZ
    Aug 1, 2016 - 12:21PM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    What are you doing about it other than ranting?Recommend

  • Khwaja
    Aug 1, 2016 - 2:26PM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    You seem to be ranting. Take all all your afghani brothren, move over back to your land, go kill whoever you think shouldnt be in your land, seal the borders, stop weapons and drug trade, and find a life of your own. Afghanistan presents a lot of incentive to idiots anywhere and attracts them. Put an end to it. Stand on your own feet and stop looking for attention from Pakistan. Whrn its all sortedd, im happy to co exist.

    Afghanis are the source and facilitators of drug and weapons trade. Thats been the case forever. Ive never seen Afghanistan as a global trade partner, they have nothing to offer. Go build your country without being a burden on others. Go on ground and assess reality for yourself. Recommend

  • Lolz
    Aug 1, 2016 - 2:29PM

    @Hakim Afghani: And all of them are harboured by Afghan Government since they all are ati-Pakistan. Recommend

  • R
    Aug 1, 2016 - 2:50PM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    Dear they are non others but your own country-men, commonly called, refugees, which probably make them Afghanis only. So, in future, we are kicking you out of our homeland as we have no plan to feed cheap people like you anymore. Go & sit in the laps of India.Recommend

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