ISIS is using the airwaves in Afghanistan to issue fatwas, religious propaganda, and anti-government rhetoric directed at Afghanistan’s government, for the first time, NBC News is reporting.
Using a radio station they’ve named “The Voice of the Caliphate,” ISIS has been able to penetrate its message deep into the homes of urban Afghans – something the Taliban has not been able to do with their own radio network, which has only been able to reach rural areas. Most Afghans lack televisions, so radio is the most popular form of mass communication in the country.
— Voice of America (@VOANews) December 18, 2015
Much of the ISIS content broadcast over the airwaves is propaganda designed to recruit new fighters – including former members of the Taliban who are dissatisfied; fatwas (that is, a sort-of Islamic equivalent of a legal opinion); and anti-government propaganda. An Afghan who identified himself as Azizullah, describes hearing their messages.
“We heard about [ISIS] radio a few days ago and for the past two nights I have been listening to it. It has become the talk of the camp. People are afraid, we have seen their brutality and know very well how serious this is. If the government does not stop this it will have a very bad effect on people’s minds — there are a lot of youngsters who will be attracted to them.”
It’s the anti-government propaganda that has Nasir Kamawal a Nangarhar provincial council member, particularly concerned, according to Tolo News.
“It is clear they have their own radio and I think it is broadcasting on 90FM and doing too much anti-government propaganda.”
An ISIS commander who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity described how the terrorist organization’s radio station has, so far, managed to employ the airwaves without interference from the Taliban or the Afghan government.
“We don’t have enough resources as compared to our enemies, but even then we are successful in our job and people listen to us. We have installed transmitters in different places but we used to change the location of the transmitters and radio stations from time to time for security reasons.”
ISIS, which considers itself the rightful “caliphate” – that is, Islamic theocracy – that “rules” Iraq and Syria (they actually control about a third of the region) has long been interested in making moves into Afghanistan. Until last week, they had been in what the Pentagon called an “exploratory phase.” Now, the terrorist organization is, according to the Pentagon, “operationally active.”
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) December 19, 2015
That news concerns the Pentagon – after nearly a decade of war spent attempting to stabilize the country, that ISIS has expanded into the region bodes poorly for continued stability.
General John Campbell, commander of U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said he believes that ISIS’ move into Afghanistan has come from two sources: from moving ISIS fighters already in Iraq and Syria into Afghanistan, and from recruiting “disenfranchised” Taliban to their side.
“They’ve been reaching out. I’m sure there are folks who have come from Syria and Iraq – I couldn’t tell you how many but there are indications of some foreign fighters coming in there.”
Campbell also notes that ISIS has bigger goals than just Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
“But they don’t have the capability right now to attack Europe, or attack the homeland, the United States. But that’s what they want to do, they’ve said that’s what they want to do.”
The Afghan government believes that the ISIS radio station is operated just across the border, in Pakistan – a claim the Pakistani government disputes.
[AP Photo, File]