Op-Ed: Afghan security situation in shambles as IS begins recruiting

Posted Jun 23, 2015 by Ken Hanly
The Afghan Taliban are able to mount serious attacks in Afghanistan. Most recently they carried out deadly attacks on the Afghan parliament and in the northern city of Kunduz.
Former Afghan Taliban militants are photographed holding weapons before they hand them over as part ...
Former Afghan Taliban militants are photographed holding weapons before they hand them over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Kunduz on May 6, 2015
Nasir Waqif, AFP/File
As the appended video shows, the attack on parliament shattered windows and filled the parliamentary chamber with smoke disrupting the confirmation of the new defense minister Masoom Stanikzai.
The parliament is supposed to be the most secure building in the country. The Taliban want to show both the Kabul government and their competitors the Islamic State just how powerful they are. They also have captured areas in the northern province of Kunduz and attacked Kunduz city. The Taliban has warned the Islamic State to stay out of Afghanistan. .
The Kunduz Police Chief Gen. Nasrati said Char Darah was just one of many districts lost in the last few days. Although reinforcements had arrived Kabul was unable to stop the violence he said. General Wahid Taqat, a former member of Afghan intelligence said that the government had simply lost control of many areas and hasnt the power to strike back. Afghan military expert, Jawed Kohistani, said:"The lack of coordination within the military, the central government's failure in the provinces and the cooperation with terrorist networks are the main reasons for the current volatile security situation." He also criticized the government for trying to make deals with Pakistani intelligence. To add to this unstable situation the Islamic State appears to be actively recruiting in Afghanistan and attempting to gain a foothold in the country.
Some time ago, General John F. Campbell the commander of the international forces in Afghanistan said that IS was using a sophisticated social media campaign to attract Taliban fighters not only in Afghanistan but Pakistan as well. The group points to the lack of success so far of the Taliban to overthrow the Kabul government after many years of battle. They point to their own success in seizing huge swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The situation has progressed to the point where there are even reports of some militants fighting each other in the east of Afghanistan. One report from two anonymous commanders of the Taliban claims that the group is splintering into three parts. One group remains loyal to the original Taliban such as those who attacked the parliament and Kunduz recently. There are also a group who want to make peace with the Kabul government and lay down their arms. A third group has joined the Islamic State and is aiming at upping the pace of fighting against Kabul. While these splits might seem to give the advantage to Kabul over a divided opposition, it seems to have made the situation worse as two of the groups compete with each other to see who can fight best against Kabul. There are other divisions with those opposed to Kabul including separate Taliban groups based in Pakistan.
A senior Afghan intelligence officer told reporters: "The cracks in the ranks of Taliban began late last year with the emergence of Daesh in the region. The first big defection [from Taliban] to Daesh was senior Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Khadin ... who was killed in a joint operation with U.S. forces a few months ago." Even back in January the group announced the creation of a council for Khorasan a historic name for territory that includes present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. While Kabul has stepped up the pace of peace talks with one group of Taliban, the talks seem doomed given that other groups not only refuse to join the process but step up their attacks and take over more territory.
American analysts say that Islamic State in Afghanistan is just starting to get organized in Afghanistan. However, there is one area in the north where their presence is already being felt. As in other countries such as Libya, Islamic State is introducing foreign fighters into local areas. In a northern area in Afghanistan, local villagers and officials say that the militants are much more brutal and vicious than the Taliban. The fighters come from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikstan. Mullah Abdul Rasheed said that a village elder was shot dead by militants while he was praying in a mosque and two of his cousins were killed in a gun battle with the militants. He said that he fled his village with others leaving everything behind. He said that the fighters had killed a person in a neighbouring village and dragged the body behind a motorcycle. In some villages they have already raised the black flag of Daesh (Islamic State) he said.