The self-styled Islamic State (IS) group is making inroads in Afghanistan, winning over a growing number of sympathisers and recruiting followers in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces, a United Nations (UN) report said Friday.
The jihadist group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has been trying to establish itself in Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their own turf.
Afghan security forces told UN sanctions monitors that about 10 percent of the Taliban insurgency are IS sympathisers, according to the report by the UN’s Al Qaeda monitoring team.
“The number of groups and individuals who are openly declaring either loyalty to or sympathy with ISIL continues to grow in a number of provinces in Afghanistan,” said the report.
Afghan government sources said “sightings of the groups with some form of ISIL branding” or sympathy were reported in 25 provinces in the war-torn country, it added.
The IS-backed groups “regularly engage” Afghan military forces, but fighting with other parts of the insurgency are rare, except in Nangarhar province where they are battling the Taliban for control of the drug trade.
Among the prominent IS fighters, the report singled out Abdul Rauf Khadem, a former Taliban adviser to Mullah Omar, who visited Iraq in October 2014 and has since formed his own group in Helmand and Farah provinces.
Khadem allegedly has been recruiting followers by paying out large sums of money.