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How ISIS’ Uzbek Terrorists Gained Toehold in Afghanistan’s Zabul?

During the past few years, hundreds of Uzbek families with a help of Taliban have moved from Pakistan’s northwestern province of Waziristan to Afghanistan’s Zabul province and took residence in Arghandab and Khak-e-Afghan Districts. These Uzbeks, in fact, were Taliban militants who just against the will of the Pakistani government have caused fear and insecurity in Waziristan.

The Pakistani government asked the Uzbek militants to end their measures but it did not receive positive response from them. In response, the Pakistani planes moved to Afghanistan’s Zabul the Uzbek militants who during the rule of Taliban over Afghanistan were especially respected by Mullah Omar, the former leader of Taliban and president of Afghanistan when the militant group ruled Afghanistan before the US invasion of the country in 2001.

The former Taliban’s leader in first step transferred the Uzbek members of Taliban to Arghandab District in Kandahar province in the south of the country, then he sent them to Khak-e-Afghan District in Zabul. Mullah Omar’s intention behind sending the new members was that Khak-e-Afghan District was far away from the center of Zabul and from the political and military capital of Afghanistan. Also, Omar meant to avoid calling attention of the central government of Afghanistan.

The Uzbeks gradually intensified presence in Khak-e-Afghan and Arghandab Districts, and then, spurred by the local leaders, they carried a huge amount of weapons and ammunition from Pakistan to their new location Afghanistan.

After Mullah Omar’s death, the former Taliban’s Uzbek fighters shifted to active ISIS terror group’s members in Afghanistan, holding contacts with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of ISIS. Additionally, their delegations went to Iraq and Syria, and were provided with new US-made weapons, armored vehicles and a large amount of money by the ISIS leadership.

Taliban learned about the status of the Uzbeks only after they were armed by ISIS and were supplied with more advanced and efficient weapons than those in the hands of Taliban.

This came in a time that the Council of Taliban Leadership in Pakistan’s Quetta, located near Afghan border, has faced problems making right decision for leadership as the Taliban’s commanders were obsessed with the Mullah Omar’s inactivity as a leader. Meanwhile, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, who was considered as one of the very influential military commanders of Taliban after death of his brother Mullah Dadullah, has betrayed the militant group and played the role of a link between the Uzbek fighters and ISIS terrorist organization. Finally Mansoor Dadullah’s act of treason was disclosed, and he was forced to flee from Pakistan and take shelter in the areas of Uzbeks who at least had 20,000 combat forces including men and women equipped with more advanced weapons than Taliban’s, and were present in Khak-e-Afghan and Arghandab Districts.

After Mansoor Dadullah took shelter in Uzbek-held areas, the Quetta-based Council of Taliban for several times sent messages to Rahman Yuldash, the chief commander of ISIS’ Uzbek forces, calling on him to hand over the fugitive Mansoor Dadullah to the militant group.

Yuldash has refused their request, however. Resolved to capture Dadullah and put down Yuldash, the Quetta Council has launched an assault on them. During the conflict, Dadullah was injured and only several days later he died in Khakiran Mountains in Zabul province. To fully obliterate the Uzbeks, who fought under name and support of ISIS, Taliban showed a real determination. So far, it carried out a couple of offensives, aiming at destroying them in Afghanistan, but it failed to make them succumb, and also failed to deal effective blows to them.

At the present time, a severe rivalry is under way between Taliban and ISIS in Zabul, with each of them trying to do away with one another.

Having in mind that, just unlike the Uzbek militants, Taliban is not based in Zabul, the Uzbeks of ISIS could receive more blows from Taliban.

Finally, it must be claimed that now Taliban admits two of its political mistakes since it was founded: first, cooperation with Al-Qaeda terrorist group and providing its fighters with safe havens, and second, its collaboration with these Uzbek militants. Taliban believes that it showed sympathy for these two groups, however, now they turned out as its sources of troubles, because should it had not given place to Al-Qaeda’s leaders in Afghanistan, it could avoid preparing the ground for American forces deployment and thus collapse of its rule over Afghanistan. Furthermore, Taliban admits that once it had not trusted the Uzbek militants, and had dealt with them as inferiors and under command of its leaders, now there was no track of ISIS group in Afghanistan’s Zabul.

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