MPs: IS Relocating to Afghanistan, Libya

Mohammad Mehdi BoroumandiMohammad Mehdi Boroumandi

Lawmakers said the liberation of Mosul spelled the end of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq, but they will likely migrate to eastern Afghanistan and Libya to exploit the weakening social and security fabrics there. In a recent talk with ICANA, Mohammad Mehdi Boroumandi, deputy chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said, "IS had sought to find a foothold in Libya for years now, for the country enjoys vast oil resources and lacks a competent authority."

After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of IS's de facto capital Mosul and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of the group's self-proclaimed caliphate. Libya is without a central government and technically in the middle of an ongoing conflict among rival groups seeking control of its territory.

IS has already found a foothold in Libya. It exported its franchise and added local forces and other extremist groups to its nucleus of Libya fighters. The group's estimated force is between 3,000 and 4,000 combatants. It has also taken control of Sirte and is now targeting neighboring areas.

Lawmaker Ardeshir Nourian also told ICANA, "A group of takfiri terrorists will stay in Iraq and Syria to carry out suicide attacks, but most of them would migrate to Afghanistan and the heart of Africa."

  Replacement for Mosul

Pointing to new fighting breaking out between the Afghan government and the Taliban with the IS operatives in east Afghanistan, Boroumandi said that "a batch of IS fighters has also moved to Nangarhar Province in east Afghanistan to control the area as a replacement for Mosul".

Nangarhar Province, near the border with Pakistan, is where the United States in April dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in the battlefield. IS is believed to have already many fighters hidden in the lawless region where the group is also referred to as ISIS-Khorasan.

According to a UN report, up to 70 IS fighters arrived from Iraq and Syria to form the core of the group in Afghanistan.

Until recently, most of the group's membership growth had come from recruiting Afghan defectors from the Taliban, but many have predicted a surge of foreign recruitments. US General Sean Swindell has told BBC that members of ISIS-Khorasan are in contact with IS's central leadership in Syria.

  US Helping Terrorists to Relocate

Boroumandi noted that the terrorists have apparently been allowed to get some breathing room and loopholes to move elsewhere.

Pointing to US strikes against government forces in Syria, the lawmaker said, "The US air raids against Syrian forces are in fact efforts to let IS move house."

In May, US fighter jets targeted Syrian government vehicles in al-Tanf for the first time in the battlefield, CBS News reported. A Syrian Su-22 fighter jet was also downed by the US on June 18, the first time a US warplane has downed a manned aircraft since 1999.

"These indications suggest that the US and its allies want the insurgency to move over to other countries," Nourian concluded.


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