The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is attempting to expand its presence in Afghanistan, Khaama Press reports, citing a lawmaker from the eastern Afghan province Ghazni.
Ghazni is adjacent to a province that borders Pakistan. Mohammad Arif Rahmani, the lawmaker, reportedly told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) that ISIS’s Afghanistan branch known as the Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) has been successfully recruiting in Ghazni, which the news outlet describe as “strategic province in southeast [where] they have been trying to establish bases.”
“The officials in eastern Ghazni province have confirmed that the terror group is attempting to recruit fighters in the outskirts of Ghazni and bordering regions of the restive Zabul province,” adds Khaama Press.
RFE/RL learned from the lawmaker that ISIS or groups linked to the jihadist group have reportedly been active in some parts of Ghazni and Zabul, which borders Ghazni and Pakistan.
“This comes as earlier reports emerged that the terror group has stepped up efforts to expand foothold in eastern Kunar and Nuristan provinces,” notes Khaama Press.
In December 2015, Gen. John Campbell, then-top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon warned that ISIS had established a stronghold in Nangarhar province, which also lies on the Pakistan border.
However, turf battles between the Taliban and ISIL-KP in Nangarhar have pushed ISIS out of Nangarhar.
Furthermore, in January, the White House granted the Pentagon legal authority to take offensive action ISIL-KP.
The authority came after President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Khaama Press reports that the “militants of the terror group were hardly hit by the US airstrikes as well as the Afghan air and ground operations in parts of Nangarhar province amid concerns that they were establishing a regional operations base and consolidate operations with the terror group based in Syria and Iraq.”
“Thousands of militants loyal to the terror group were killed or wounded as US Air Force increased air raids which followed by more authorities granted by the Obama administration earlier this year,” it adds.
ISIS declared the establishment of its Khorasan Province in January 2015, less than a month after Obama said the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan was over.
Khorasan is a historic name for a region that covers Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India, Iran, and other surrounding countries.
The Taliban still remains the largest terrorist in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the Obama administration took away the U.S. military’s authority to offensively attack the group when he declared the combat mission over.