Lawmakers: US Helped IS Gain Foothold in Afghanistan

Jalil RahimiJalil Rahimi

Lawmakers said the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group is moving to the war-weary Afghanistan where the conditions are more conducive to the outfit for continuing its reign of terror after suffering heavy defeats in Iraq and Syria.

Jalil Rahimi, a member of Majlis Judicial and Legal Affairs Commission, said "the weak federal government, lucrative drug trafficking and prevailing poverty in Afghanistan can be exploited by IS to survive in the country."

"IS has been active in Afghanistan in the past few years. However, the group's activities have increased in provinces like Nangarhar and Badakhshan in eastern and northeastern parts of the country respectively," he said.

IS fighters have waged a war against the Taliban and Afghan Army in mountainous Nangarhar Province where they have been able to carve out a territory for themselves.

The group has sustained considerable losses in recent months. They lost Mosul, their de facto capital in Iraq, and have been encircled in Raqqa, their main bastion in Syria.

Last month, IS presence in Afghanistan once again received extensive media coverage when they captured the notorious Tora Bora, a mountain hideout made of a warren of complex caves in the province once used by former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Early in June, Russia announced it was reinforcing two of its bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with its newest weapons because of fears of a "spillover of terrorist activities from Afghanistan" by the Afghan IS affiliate.

"The [IS] group's strategy to establish an Islamic caliphate poses a threat not only to Afghanistan but also to the neighboring countries," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

  Gate of Hell

Rahimi said the Iranian government should try to strengthen the hand of Kabul, warning that the presence of terrorists could make Afghanistan "the gate of hell".

The lawmaker cautioned that IS in Afghanistan would be detrimental to countries like China, Russia and India, saying the countries need to increase their security and intelligence-sharing ties.

"This can be even done through the Shanghai Cooperation Council," he said.

SCO is an economic and security organization composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded in Shanghai in 2001. It was later expanded to include Pakistan and India as well.

Iran has also been an active observer, with negotiations underway for it to become a full member.

  US Hidden Agenda

Lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh raised doubts about the breathing room provided for IS fighters to escape from Syria and Iraq war theaters, saying that "US measures against the Syrian Army in recent months can be equal to allowing IS fighters to get away from Syria elsewhere."

The US military has struck at the Syrian Army at least four times in the past year, Russia Insider reported.

A US fighter also shot down a Syrian jet on June 19, the first time a US warplane downed a manned aircraft since 1999.

Explaining the recent IS gains, Zabiullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, told AP in a recent telephone interview that Taliban fighters drove IS from parts of Tora Bora, but a US airstrike on the Taliban killed 11 of its fighters, helping the IS militants to advance.

"Afghanistan borders Iran, a US opponent, and that is why it has been chosen as the next destination for IS settlement," he said.


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