U.S.-led forces have destroyed an ISIS radio station in Afghanistan that was broadcasting the “Voice of the Caliphate.” The airstrikes also killed multiple Islamic State fighters.
U.S. airstrikes have destroyed an ISIS-operated radio station in the remote regions of eastern Afghanistan, indicated a U.S. military official on the condition of anonymity, reported ABC News. The U.S.-led coalition destroyed the radio station that was broadcasting “Voice of the Caliphate.” The airstrikes also killed more than 20 militants.
The military official wasn’t authorized to brief media on the subject. However, Army Col. Mike Lawhorn, spokesman for the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that the U.S. forces conducted two “counter-terrorism airstrikes” late Monday in Achin district, in the eastern Nangarhar province. Though he did not offer any more details, the Afghan Defense Ministry confirmed that the radio station was downed by an airstrike.
The fresh airstrikes conducted over Afghanistan also killed 21 Islamic State fighters, mentioned Attaullah Khogyan, a police spokesman from eastern Nangarhar Province. Of those killed, five were stationed to operate the radio station. The station was set up in late 2015. While the ISIS and the Taliban are hell-bent on imposing the radical version of the sharia law, there have been bitter differences regarding leadership and strategy. While Taliban is narrowly focused on Afghanistan, the ISIS has much grander plans and intends to establish a worldwide caliphate, reported Fox News.
The “Voice of the Caliphate” became operational after months of fierce fighting between ISIS group militants and the Taliban, who also maintain a significant presence in the region. The radio station was operating illegally and was broadcasting propaganda messages across Nangarhar. While there are no recordings to prove what the radio station was sending out, regional reports indicate the radio station was calling on fighters to join the group.
Besides acting as a recruitment and publicity medium, ISIS militants operating the station would regularly issue threats to journalists who were active in the provincial capital, Jalalabad. The radio operated near the Afghan-Pakistan border and broadcasted propaganda on a daily basis in Pashto into the region, reported the Daily Caller.
The programs broadcasted were intended to denounce the current Afghan regime and urge civilians to join the ISIS. The militants would also threaten government servants. As ISIS is engaged in a bitter dispute with Taliban, the terror organization even mocked the latter, alleging it was collaborating with Pakistani intelligence, reported the Long War Journal.
ISIS usually attempts to reach a wider regional audience by using loud speakers. However, they also use Spreaker, a platform which allows creation of “on-demand audio podcasts.” These recordings are then distributed online using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram.
Afghanistan authorities did attempt to jam the signals, but ISIS has managed to evade permanent closure by keeping the broadcasts mobile. Afghan officials believe ISIS has mobile broadcasting facilities that can be easily moved through the mountainous border.
Radio has always been a very powerful medium in Afghanistan primarily because majority of the population doesn’t own or have access to a television. Internet penetration is abysmal at best. However, nearly everyone has access to radio. No wonder then that there are about 175 radio stations operational in the country. At its peak, “The Voice of the Caliphate” was transmitting ISIS-related material for about 90 minutes per day. The organization offered translation in Dari as well as the Pashto language.
An IS affiliate has emerged in Afghanistan over the past year, with a military presence in districts near the border with Pakistan, reported NDTV. The U.S. State Department has already added the same to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Recently, the U.S.-led forces bombed a bank that was being used by ISIS to store its ill-gotten cash. Such air raids are hoped to stem the rising clout of the terror organization.
[Photo by Gokhan Sahin / Getty Images]