An analytical news website reported of growing confrontation between the Taliban and the ISIL in Afghanistan.
The English-language website, Diplomat, wrote that a few months after Mosul fell in Iraq last summer and the ISIL rose to prominence, we began hearing murmurs that ISIL had spread eastward, into Afghanistan.
The extent of ISIL’ activities and presence in Afghanistan remains ambiguous, but the Taliban have started to feel the group’s impact.
The Taliban recently warned Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its self-styled caliph, that “jihad against the Americans and their allies [in Afghanistan] must be conducted under one flag and one leadership.”
The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan largely remain loyal to Mullah Omar, the group’s reclusive leader.
The Taliban’s letter added that “The Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) does not consider the multiplicity of jihadi ranks beneficial either for jihad or for Muslims.”
“Your decisions made from a distance will result in (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) losing support of religious scholars, mujahideen… and in order to defend its achievements the Islamic Emirate will be forced to react,” it added.
The letter was signed by the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor.
The letter was published on the Taliban’s website in several languages, including Arabic, Pashto, Urdu, and Dari. The group did not outline the consequences of the Islamic States’ continuing bid to increase its influence in Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, the ISIL announced the creation of the Khorasan Shura (Khorasan refers to the historic region which comprises roughly eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and the land West of the Sindhu river in Pakistan).
The Shura comprised several former senior members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Shortly afterwards, fighters claiming to fight for ISIL killed a Taliban commander in Logar province, marking the start of a nebulous turf war within the country.
In April, ISIL claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Jalalabad that killed 35 (its first serious attack against civilians in Afghanistan).
The public posting of the letter, and the fact that it had to be written at all, underscore the Taliban’s rising concern about losing its rank-and-file fighters to the ISIL.
Indeed, initial reports of the ISIL’s appearance in “Khorasan” have emphasized the extent to which the fighters bearing the group’s iconic black flag were locals who would otherwise have fought for the Taliban.
As 2015′s fighting season heats up between the Afghan government and militants, the Taliban will look to unite its ranks (a problem for the organization for reasons other than the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Diplomat said in its article.