Hezb-e-Islami ‘may join Islamic State’

KARACHI: Fighters from Hizbe Islami, a militant Islamic group in Afghanistan told the BBC they are considering joining forces with Islamic State (IS).

Their commander also said they would still fight the Afghan government, even after Nato forces left in 2014.
Commander Mirwais said that if IS, which he called by its Arabic acronym Daish, proved a true Islamic caliphate, they would link up with it.

The news comes amid an ongoing row over Afghanistan’s presidential poll.

The June election remains disputed, with no declared winner, while an audit of votes is taking place.

‘Great mujahideen'”We know Daish and we have links with some Daish members. We are waiting to see if they meet the requirements for an Islamic caliphate,” Commander Mirwais said.

“If we find they do, we are sure that our leadership will announce their allegiance to them. They are great mujahideen. We pray for them, and if we don’t see a problem in the way they operate, we will join them.”

The threat is a disturbing one. If any group does link up with IS, it would add an entirely new dimension to the struggle.
Across Afghanistan, there are currently 14 different front lines where the Taliban are fighting government forces.

One of them is around Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan. It is less than 200km (120 miles) from Kabul, but it takes seven hours to drive there, across the mountains and through the Salang Pass.

The roads are often atrocious thanks to the web of local corruption, despite the huge amounts of Western money that have been lavished on them.

Through an intermediary, we had made contact with Commander Mirais, whose group is fighting on the outskirts of Pul-e-Khumri.

Commander Mirwais has moved from group to group in the past, but now he belongs to Hezb-e-Islami, a group with a good deal of blood on its hands.

Over the years, Hezb-e-Islami has become famous for its ferocity, which has sometimes alienated even the Taliban themselves.