Why Pakistan ISI Wants Another Group ‘Ready’ – To Replace Taliban

·7-min read

Top sources within Afghan intelligence have revealed, that the Pakistan ISI wants another armed group ready – to replace the Taliban – in case the intra-Afghan talks succeed under US pressure. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi two days ago during a phone call on the occasion of Eid, sources reveal. The same was also discussed in the meeting with Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, and Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Mohid.

Intelligence inputs with India’s Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) in June 2019 had indicated a potential increase in terrorism in the Kashmir Valley, once the US-Taliban peace deal would materialise, followed by withdrawal of US troops from Afghan soil. Intelligence inputs had indicated more involvement in Taliban terrorists in infiltration from Pakistan to Kashmir.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has confirmed that an Indian national who had gone missing in 2016 along with his pregnant wife, has been identified as the one who carried out the vehicle-borne suicide attack on the central prison in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Among the 11 attackers, the three Indians have been identified by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province (ISKP) as Abu Rawaha Al-Hindi, Abu-Noah Al-Hindi and Dr Abu Hayyan Al-Hindi.

The Quint has accessed a photograph which shows all 11 attackers –– including 4 Tajiks, 3 Indian, 3 Afghans and 1 Pakistani nationals.

A photograph of all 11 attackers.
A photograph of all 11 attackers.

The gun battle which continued for over 20 hours, left 29 dead and over 50 injured. Over 1793 prisoners were believed to be inmates of the high-security Nangarhar prison. More than 1500 tried to escape during the attack but were caught later, and over 311 are still missing. Intelligence sources in Afghanistan believe that many Pakistani Taliban and ISKP fighters may have escaped as well.

"“The Suicide Bomber is identified as one ‘Abu Rawaha al-Muhajir’. The picture of this person as circulated by ISKP on social media matches that of Dr Ijas Kallukettiya Purayil, an absconding accused in the NIA case.”" - A Top NIA Official to Aditya Raj Kaul for The Quint

“A Red Corner Notice had been issued against him, as he had gone to ISKP with his pregnant wife in June, 2016. His wife Rafaela, and their child are in the custody of Afghan authorities,” he added.

The NIA is yet to identify the other two killed attackers of the Nangarhar prison but believes that they could be also from Kasaragod in Kerala.

Also Read: Are ISIS & Taliban ‘Enemies’? No – US Should Stop ‘Believing’ This

Who Is Dr Iljas Kallukettiya Alias Abu Rawaha Al-Hindi?

In July 2016, five families in Kerala’s Kasaragod had petitioned to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to locate their missing family members. One of them was that of a young 28-year-old doctor from Padana –– Dr Ijas. Ijas used to practice medicine in his native village at a primary health centre after he returned from China where he had completed his medical education. Ijas’s wife was a dentist and had also practised with him in Kozhikode. Over four relatives of Ijas had gone missing soon after Ijas and his wife went missing on 28 May that year. It later emerged that over 21 youth from Kasaragod had gone missing and joined the ISKP in Afghanistan after indoctrination and radicalisation –– locally as well as through social media.

A poster released by ISKP
A poster released by ISKP

The NIA case dated 23 August 2016 pertains to the criminal conspiracy and pursuant unlawful acts committed by accused persons for supporting and joining the proscribed terrorist organisation ISIL, and waging war against Afghanistan and India.

As per the investigation in the case, Dr Iljas, who is the son of Abdul Rehman Parambath and resident of Padana in Kasaragod, Kerala, had left the country along with his wife Rafaela and his son Hayyan Abdu Rahman on 3 June 2016 to join the ISIS or Daesh territory in Afghanistan. It is also learnt that his wife gave birth to a baby girl in Afghanistan, who was later named Fatima. Rafaela and her children are among the Indians currently detained by the NDS in Afghanistan.

Also Read: ISIS Attack On Kabul Gurdwara: Why India Should Be Concerned

ISKP Owns Up To Nangarhar Prison Attack

Jailbreaks have happened on several occasions in the past in Afghanistan, but the latest attempt was one of the most complex and coordinated attacks of all. The attack also comes at a time when ISKP has suffered losses and needed a comeback from its newly-appointed top leader. The attack happened merely hours after the Afghan Spy agency NDS claimed the killing of Intelligence Chief of ISKP, Assadullah Orakzai, a Pakistani national, who was killing during an anti-terror operation in Jalalabad city.

An official message released on the dark web by Khurasan Wilayah, titled ‘Liberating Hundreds of Prisoners in Afghanistan’, claimed: “An Islamic State istishhadi detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the prison gate, followed by a group of commandos penetrating inside and clashing with the guards, destroying the prison walls, to open the way for prisoners to escape from it.”

The message further read:

"“Support forces preoccupied a military base for the international coalition in the city with mortar fire, and other groups of Islamic State fighters set up ambushes on the road to prevent the Afghan army from providing support to the prison.” "

ISKP also released a 20-minute audio by its spokesperson, Sultan Aziz Azzam, which gave details of the entire attack on the prison by each of the 11 individuals who were divided into four groups strategically, along with heavy quantities of ammunition and weapons including mortars to last for several hours. As per the audio, the attack began on 2 August evening from multiple points, which also targeted Jalalabad airport. Azzam also goes on to warn of more such attacks in the future, and compares the recent prison attack with that of the Abu Ghraib prison break of 2013.

Kabul Gurdwara Attack by ISKP

Earlier this year on 25 March, in a terrorist attack on a Kabul Sikh Gurudwara, over 25 Sikh devotees were massacred.

The Afghan NDS had revealed the details of the four attackers from ISKP soon after, which included 28-year-old Mohammad Muhsin, also a resident of Kasaragod in Kerala, who left India for the UAE in 2018, and thereafter is believed to have entered Afghanistan to join the global terrorist organisation. The ISKP, in propaganda material, had posted his picture immediately after the attack and identified him as Abu Khalid Al-Hindi. The family received the news about his death from the ISKP in Afghanistan soon after.

What Lies Ahead?

With the death of the three Indian ISKP members in the Nangarhar prison attack, a total of four Indian ISKP terrorists have been killed this year in Afghanistan. NDS sources reveal that family members of seven ISKP terrorists from India are in their custody –– while four are from Kashmir, three others are from Kerala.

The Afghan NDS also fears that more terrorists will be on their way from Kashmir to Afghanistan at the behest of the Pakistan ISI to join ISKP or the Taliban.

Afghanistan’s Acting interior minister Masoud Andrabi has revealed links between Haqqani network and Taliban; Andrabi alleged that the two terror groups carry out terrorism on a daily basis on Afghan soil, and when their terror activities do not suit them, they politically rebrand it under ISKP.

Masoud also revealed that the new leader of ISIS Khorasan branch, Shahab Almahajir, is a Pakistan-based Haqqani Network terrorist

(Aditya Raj Kaul has a decade’s worth of experience in covering conflict, internal security and foreign policy for various national media outlets. He tweets at @AdityaRajKaul.)

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