Nationals of France are reportedly among the foreign militants joining Daesh ranks in northern Afghanistan, where the notorious terror group has established a foothold after losing its territorial rule in Syria and Iraq.
Several international and Afghan sources warned on Sunday that “a number” of French and Algerian nationals had entered the largely Daesh-controlled district of Darzab in Afghanistan’s northern province of Jowzjan in November.
According to district governor Baaz Mohammad Dawar, at least two women were among the arrivals. He also said three Algerians seen in Darzab are believed to have been in Syria and Iraq.
European and Afghan security sources Kabul confirmed the governor’s remarks about the presence of French nationals among the militants. One of the sources, however, said, “we do not know how many there are.”
Citing the residents of Darzab, AFP reported that about 200 foreign nationals had set up a camp just a few hundred meters from the village of Bibi Mariam.
According to locals, the militants were of several nationalities, including French, and were tall, aged in their late 20s, and dressed in military clothing.
“They ride their [motor] bikes, go to the border and come back, but they talk to nobody,” AFP quoted one of the residents as saying.
Residents and the district governor warned the militants were also exploiting natural resources, such as precious stones and metals.
“They are … bringing misery to normal people,” stated a former district village chief identified in the AFP report as Hashar, with other villagers saying many locals had fled the area.
Hashar also said some of the militants operating in the area were training others how to use bombs and lay land mines.
European services in Afghanistan said the militants are arriving through Tajikistan. According to one of the security sources, at least one Frenchman arrested there in July said he had wanted to join Daesh in Afghanistan.
Last month, the Iraqi and Syrian national armies managed to rid the Takfiri Daesh outfit of all the territory it had captured in the two neighboring countries in a sweeping advance back in 2014.
Russia, which greatly contributed to Syria’s anti-Daesh battles, said earlier this week that the terrorists, who have survived the army operations in Iraq and Syria, are now fleeing, with Afghanistan becoming the “most probable” new foothold for the group.
Taking advantage of the chaos fueled by local Taliban militants, Daesh terrorists first emerged in Afghanistan’s eastern and northeastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar in 2015. The terrorists are now moving northwards.
The Takfiri group has claimed a number of deadly attacks against mosques and security posts in the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, over the past year.
France has been the victim of the deadliest Daesh-inspired terror attacks in Europe.
Concerns are mounting in the European country over the security threats which could be posed by its nationals upon returning home from conflict zones.
Africa on alert
Meanwhile, the African Union’s top security official also warned about the possible return of thousands of Takfiri terrorists from and Iraq and Syria to the continent.
The union’s commissioner for peace and security, Smail Chergui, said on Sunday that African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants.
“There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East,” said Chergui.
“The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and intense cooperation between African countries,” he added.