MRITYUNJOY KUMAR JHA
New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS): The United States has announced a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the capture of ISIS-K leader Sanaullah Ghafari and another $10 million reward for information about other terrorists responsible for the attack on Kabul International Airport on August 26 in which more than 200 people including 13 US troops were killed.
The US State Department said the cash pay outs would encourage tip-offs that could lead to the arrest of leaders and militants of the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.
Ghafari, also known as Shahab al-Muhajir, was appointed to lead ISIS-K in June 2020, according to the Department of State. He is thought to be responsible for approving ISIS-K operations throughout Afghanistan and arranging funding for the group. In November, the U.S. State Department designated Ghafari as a “specially designated global terrorist.”
“An ISIS communique announcing his appointment described al-Muhajir as an experienced military leader and one of ISIS-K’s ‘urban lions’ in Kabul who has been involved in guerrilla operations and the planning of suicide and complex attacks,” says the US state department.
According to the US security officials, Ghafari is responsible for approving all ISIS-K operations throughout Afghanistan and arranging funding to conduct operations. The group has more than 4000 fighters spread in Afghanistan.
Ghafari alias Shahab al-Muhajir, is a former operative of the Haqqani Network who now dominate the Taliban government in Kabul, including control over the ministry of interior responsible for managing internal security. The chief of Haqqanis, Sirajuddin Haqqani is the Interior Minister of Afghanistan who carries a bounty of $ 10 million on his head. According to some news reports, several major attacks over the past two years involved direct collaboration between the Haqqanis and ISIS-K.
Since the Taliban’s capture in Kabul, ISIS-K has stepped up attacks across the country, raising alarm bells about the potential resurgence of a group that could eventually pose an international threat. The insurgent group has targeted ethnic minorities and the Taliban and is now carrying out attacks across the country.
Growing regional and international demands for a clampdown has put the Taliban in a Catch-22 position, whereby the action needed to restore access to its funds frozen in the US and elsewhere runs the risk of tearing its own nascent government apart. The Taliban cannot be seen to be ignoring growing international pressure to tackle all militant groups, including ISIS-K, the anti-Pakistan TTP and the anti-China ETIM, among other trans-national outfits based in the country.
While the Taliban have confined their struggle to Afghanistan, the Islamic State group in Afghanistan and Pakistan has embraced the Islamic State’s call for a worldwide jihad against non-Muslims.
Last week, the US announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, caused by a self-inflicted explosion during a US counterterrorism raid in Syria on Wednesday. However, despite the victory, ISIS and its Afghan affiliate ISIS-K is far from neutralized.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)