Taliban dismiss US claim of Islamic State growth in Afghanistan

Taliban dismiss US claim of Islamic State growth in Afghanistan
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has dismissed US claims that the Islamic State Khorasan Province have grown more active in Afghanistan as ‘not true’. 
2 min read
25 March, 2023
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed Islamic State militants had been 'reduced in ranks' in Afghanistan [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

The Taliban on Friday refuted a US official’s claim that the Islamic State group had an increased presence in Afghanistan

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the hardline Islamist group's administration, tweeted on Saturday that the US claims were "not true". 

"The statements of US officials about the number of ISIS in Afghanistan are not true. Daesh militants have already been reduced in ranks and suppressed," he tweeted, referring to the Islamic State group by their Arabic abbreviation Daesh.  

Mujahid further accused the United States of abetting militants from the Islamic State, a group also commonly known by the acronym ISIS.

"The interest of the US officials in this matter and their grandiosity is aiding and abetting the ISIS insurgents, which should be stopped," he said in a follow-up tweet.

Last week, senior US general Michael Kurilla, the head of the US Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee that "ISIS is stronger today in Afghanistan".

"They can do external operations against US or Western interests abroad in under six months with little to no warning," Voice of America reported Kurilla as saying of IS, meaning that there was a higher probability that the militants could threaten US interests in Asia and Europe. 

Kurilla’s statements came less than a year and a half after the US military’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s conquest of the country. 

The Islamic State Khorasan Province - the group’s offshoot in Afghanistan - has stepped up its operations in the Taliban-administrated country over the past few months, according to multiple reports. 

The militant outfit has battled the Taliban ever since they took control of Afghanistan, and have emerged as a serious threat in the country. They have organised dozens of attacks in Afghanistan, and a recent wave of assassination attempts against Taliban officials have raised concerns that they may be intent on attacking targets outside the country.