Daesh released a new video on Monday claiming the Taliban leadership has deviated from the righteous path. The video is highly produced and distributed by Daesh’s official Telegram channel. The video comes five days after reports emerged that the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was badly wounded in a shootout with other militants. Also, the Taliban is defending rumors that Mansour was killed and the leadership is hiding his death.
A man identifying himself as Abu Yasir Al-Afghani appears in the video and claims the Taliban is working with Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, and of protecting shrines deemed by Daesh as being un-Islamic. Al-Afghani also bashes alleged ties between the Taliban and Iran, which as a Shiite Muslim state is oft maligned by Sunni extremists.
“My message to the Muslim people of the province of Khorasan and to those youth who are fighting in the ranks of the Taliban is that the doors of the Islamic State is (sic) open for you,” recited Al-Afghani. He uses the ancient name Khorasan, a historic name of the territory covering modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and surrounding areas.
5 Dimension Consultants’ Aimen Dean, who used to be a member of al-Qaeda operating in the Afghan/Pakistan border region said, “The greatest challenge to the new leader is the emergence of ISIS within Afghanistan, especially among the eastern Pashtuns (mainly Nengherhar Province) who are feeling marginalized within the Taliban’s leadership structure. They have therefore found in ISIS, an attractive alternative with access to generous funding and the ability to assert their power in the eastern provinces. I believe the new Taliban commander will face a greater number of defections to ISIS, in these Provinces now that Mullah Omar is dead.”
Currently, the eastern provinces are tactically of importance because they control the strategic Khyber Pass. The provinces border a specific part of the tribal areas in Pakistan that are seeing an uptick in Daesh recruits. It would follow logic that U.S. coalition forces are paying very close attention to whether the Taliban experiences further mutiny within their ranks. If that occurs, the fortunes of Khurasan could potentially fall into the hands of Daesh.