A breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban has sent a delegation to meet the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, and assure him that they are not opposed to the activities of the ultra-extremist group in Afghanistan.
Leaders of the Fidayee Mahaz or the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan will hold talks with Baghdadi or the group’s other leaders days after the Taliban warned the IS leaders to stay away from Afghanistan as its emergence will divide the ‘Mujahideen’ that could harm their resistance against the foreign forces.
The Taliban deputy chief, Akhtar Mansoor, in his letter had warned Baghdadi of possible ‘bloodshed’ if the elements who have been expelled from the Taliban movement over “crimes tried to create differences in Jihadi ranks in the presence of the Islamic Emirate [Taliban].”
IS, also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, has yet not formally responded to the Taliban letter.
Some Taliban leaders, who have broken with the group, however, say everyone ‘waging a jihad’ is welcomed in Afghanistan. “We have sent a three-member delegation to meet Abu Bakar al Baghdadi and assure him that his people can continue their Jihad in Afghanistan,” Fidayee Mahaz spokesman Qari Hamza told The Express Tribune on Monday.
Fidayee Mahaz is led by a senior Taliban commander Maulavi Najeebbullah alias Umer Khetab, who has served on several military positions in different parts of the country. He was very close to the Taliban top military commander, Mullah Dadullah Akhund, who was killed by foreign and Afghan forces in 2007. Akhund had appointed Khetab in-charge of the bombers’ recruitment.
The group was launched after the Taliban planned to open a political office in Qatar in 2013 to pursue peace talks. “We will categorically tell the Islamic State leader that there will be no misunderstanding if the group continues its operations in Afghanistan,” Qari Hamza said. Asked if leaders of the Fidayee Mahaz would declare allegiance to the Islamic State, he said, “This is not part of the initial contacts.”
The Taliban are annoyed at the activities of Da’ish in Afghanistan as some of their leaders have joined it and more could follow. Taliban and Da’ish supporters had been involved in fighting in parts of eastern Nangarhar province in recent weeks.
Reports said on Sunday that latest clashes claimed nearly a dozen lives in Nangarhar. Da’ish recently posted photographs of recruitment in Nangarahr on its social media websites.
Afghan sources have confirmed to The Express Tribune that Da’ish supporters have expelled the Taliban from some areas that had earlier been under Taliban control.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.