Despite Death Of ISIS Leader, Threat Still Very Real, Taliban And ISIS Form Alliance

Although he was killed in a U.S. airstrike last month, the death of ISIS leader Hafiz Saeed was just recently reported on Friday by the Pentagon. The threat, however, is not over simply because their leader is dead. The loss of the head to the ISIS groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan was a major blow to jihadists, yet they still intend to carry on the fight, as observers noted this week.

To continue to halt the acts of the extremists, Afghan forces are preparing an operation against the militant group following what is being considered the deadliest attack in Kabul for nearly 15 years. The death of Saeed, the second of prominent leaders for ISIS to die in U.S. airstrikes in recent months, is a setback to the fighters as they continue to attempt to expand beyond heartlands of Syria and Iraq into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A political analyst in Kabul, spoke on the matter with the Associated French Press.

“The killing of IS leader Hafiz Saeed in a US airstrike is a major blow to the group, which will struggle to make gains without a strong leadership. But the IS threat in the region is still far from over.”

Bombs launched by jihadists last month tore through Kabul and killed 80 people in the deadliest attack since 2001. The AFP shares what the attack represents for future occupation of Afghanistan.

“The devastating attack in the capital represented a major escalation for IS, which so far has largely been confined to its stronghold in Nangarhar, where it is notorious for brutality including beheadings. But officials denied that it marked a turning point for IS in Afghanistan, saying the group has been under heavy pressure from both US air strikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces.”

U.S. military say that the group’s stronghold in Afghanistan is dwindling due to strikes by Afghan forces and U.S. forces backing them. The extremists are contained and confined to only three districts in Nangarhar at this point after they occupied nearly nine back in January. However, despite the offensive attacks, residents in the districts share that the jihadists still maintain a stronghold and keep them in constant terror with their tyrannical reign.

Local government also insists that the offensive attacks are setting the jihadists back, yet insecurities and worries remain. A tribal leader in Hisha Mina, spoke to AFP on the current situation from his viewpoint.

“The offensive is going on and the government says they are winning. But Daesh fights every night, and the insecurities have increased, not decreased.”

Local tribal leaders say that these insecurities are rising due to the Taliban, which is a stronger group than IS, having made an alliance with the jihadists after the deadly year, for the purpose of fighting off the government forces.

Malek Haseeb, another tribal leader in Kot agrees that the alliance spells trouble for the government and civilians of Afghanistan.

“The Daesh and Taliban have stopped fighting each other and are both fighting the government. Once government forces leave, we fear Daesh will return and resume their operations.”

An army commander in the region has verified that the alliance between the two extremist groups has been made, although the Taliban denies fervently that they have joined forces with IS. AP shares the history of the Taliban and former relationship with IS over their years of insurgency.

“The Taliban, who have themselves often been accused of savagery during their 15-year insurgency, have publicly sought to appear as a bulwark against IS’s reign of brutality and as a legitimate group waging an Islamic war. The NATO-led coalition estimates there are around 1,500 IS militants in Afghanistan.”

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty]