"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Friday, January 16, 2015

ISIS sets up its first base in Afghanistan, run by former Guantanamo prisoner

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An offshoot of the Middle East's Islamic State insurgency has begun operating on southern Afghanistan, less than three months after British combat troops withdrew from the region.

A man identified as Mullah Abdul Rauf was actively recruiting fighters for the groups, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants.

Local sources said Rauf, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, had set up his base in Helmand province and was offering good wages to anyone willing to fight for the Islamic State.

General Mahmood Khan, the deputy commander of the Afghan army's 215 Corps, said residents of a number of districts in Helmand have said Rauf's representatives are fanning out to recruit people reports the Daily Mail.

'A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema (religious council members) and other people have contacted me to tell me that Mullah Rauf had contacted them and invited them to join him,' Gen Khan said.

But he said the Taliban, which is active across Helmand, has warned people not to contact Rauf.

'People are saying that he has raised black flags and even has tried to bring down white Taliban flags in some areas,' said Saifullah Sanginwal, a tribal leader in Sangin district, where British troops once patrolled.

'There are reports that 19 or 20 people have been killed' in fighting between the Taliban and the IS group, he added.  Sulaiman Shah, who was Sangin district governor until last month, told the Times that Rauf was believed to be moving back and forth to Iraq and Syria via Iran.

'He is telling people that his leader is in Iraq and that they have some activities in some parts of Afghanistan,' Mr Shah said.

Helmand provincial council head Haji Mohammad Karim Atal told the Times that Rauf's Islamic State cell was offering wages of $500 (£330) a month to tempt Taliban fighters to switch sides.

Tensions between the established militant group and the new pretender had reportedly turned deadly on at least one occasion, including a week ago when five or six people were killed when a gunfight broke out between Rauf's followers and those of Mullah Ahmad Shah, the Taliban commander in northern Helmand.

The violence comes less than three months after the withdrawal of British combat troops from the country, where they had been waging war against the Taliban for 13 years.

A total of 453 British forces personnel or MoD civilians died while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001. More than 2,200 members of the U.S. military have died.

Estimates of the number of Taliban fighters killed are sketchy, but range from 25,000 to 40,000. The war also resulted in the deaths of an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 Afghan civilians.

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