ISIS has landed in Afghanistan, and a former Guantanamo detainee is providing the farewell party for withdrawing U.S. forces.
Mullah Abdul Rauf, a former Taliban commander who was released from Guantanamo in 2007, is recruiting fighters for ISIS. According to Afghan National Army Gen. Mahmood Khan, ISIS has moved into the south of Afghanistan and is actively battling the Taliban, The New York Times reports.
“A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema (religious council members) and other people have contacted me to tell me that Mullah Rauf had contacted them and invited them to join him,” Khan said.
ISIS forces have been replacing the white flags of the Taliban with the black flags of ISIS, and an elder in the Sangin district told the BBC that a recent skirmish between the rival terrorist organizations left approximately 20 dead.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani warned President Obama that troop withdrawal would leave a void ISIS would be eager to fill. Those warnings have gone ignored, with some claiming up until last week that ISIS wouldn’t enter Afghanistan.
“This is not Iraq. I don’t see [Islamic State] coming into Afghanistan like they did into Iraq,” International Security Assistance Force commander Gen. John Campbell told Fox News last week. What’s different about this case is not the presence of ISIS, but rather the shadowy figure behind the recruitment drive.
From 1996 up until 2001, Mullah Abdul Rauf was a high-level Taliban commander whose tenure finally ended after U.S. capture. He was sent straight to Guantanamo Bay for years. In 2007, U.S. authorities transferred Rauf back to Afghanistan. Rauf claimed to be a very low-level foot soldier in the Taliban, or otherwise denied any involvement.
A transcript from Rauf’s release interview revealed very benign intentions: “If I go back right now and there is Karzia’s government, all I want to do is go there and work on my land…If they do not mind, I’d love to go there and help them out with the new government and work for them.”
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