The Islamic State beheaded at least 10 Taliban militants in Afghanistan this week in a remote area in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar region, where the jihadist groups are locked in an intense battle for control over many of the surrounding provinces.
ISIS and the Taliban officially declared war against each other in April of this year, when the Islamic State carried out its first attack there.
According to India.com, a dozen Taliban militants were captured while retreating and trying to flee, following a gun battle with the Afghan security forces. Numan Hatifi of the 201st Corps of the Afghan National Army reportedly said that ISIS has taken control from the Taliban in several regions, even replacing them completely in one district, since May and has begun recruiting candidates for its aspirations of creating a worldwide Islamic Caliphate spawning from the Middle East.
The Taliban has long sent a message to the world that Afghanistan should only be controlled by Afghanis, evidenced by their history of fierce resistance to foreign invasions. Yet, the Islamic State’s creeping infiltration could virtually reshape the security measures implemented in that region. The Taliban have expressed countless times their intent to maintain their scope of influence in Afghanistan and not beyond its borders.
ISIS’s recent inroads there may have been an incentive for the Taliban to send a delegation to Iran recently. Although initial reports surfaced suggesting it was not immediately clear why they would open such dialogue when considering the Taliban’s Sunni practice of Islam views Iran’s Shia version as apostasy, it increasingly seems to be a possibility that they are seeking Iran’s help to thwart the Islamic State’s creeping influence there.
ISIS has been administering the same strategy in Afghanistan that they used in Syria, for example, when they fought with the more established units affiliated with al-Qaeda before overtaking them.
Dozens of insurgents have reportedly died or been injured in the last few weeks in armed clashes between the Taliban and ISIS to gain control over several regions of Nangarhar—one of 34 provinces in the country. Jalalabad is the capital and it is bordered with Pakistan, which is of strategic importance to Islamic State jihadists.
In the most recent issue of their magazine, Dabiq, ISIS claimed it has access to nuclear weapons through Pakistan. They expressed their intent to then take those weapons, transport them through Nigeria, and then smuggle them into the United States by way of illegal trafficking networks through Mexico.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.