KABUL (TCA) — A new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) warns that Islamic extremist groups like Daesh (Islamic State) are on the rise in Afghanistan, and that if former Taliban fighters aren’t helped with reintegration into society, they could soon flood the ranks of Daesh, Sputnik news agency reported.
The US watchdog’s September 19 report warns that the estimated 150,000 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan cannot remain exorcised from Afghan government and civil society after a peace deal is reached between the US and the militant group. If they do, the risk is high that they will join the ranks of even more dangerous groups.
“If ex-combatants are not accepted by their communities or are unable to find a new livelihood, they may be vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups or terrorist organizations like the Islamic State,” the report says.
Daesh has mostly seen its activities confined to Syria and Iraq, but in recent years it has sought to expand its network into Central Asia as well as western Africa. However, relationships with other Muslim militant groups, including the Taliban, are rarely peaceful, and just as Daesh found itself opposed by al-Qaeda-aligned militias in Syria, so has it entered bloody conflict with the Taliban wherever the two meet.
In Afghanistan, Daesh calls itself Islamic State-Khorasan and is estimated to have some 4,000 fighters in the country’s eastern frontier areas.
“Reconstruction” quickly became part of the US mission in Afghanistan, and the US has spent roughly $65 million on reintegration programs for both former Taliban fighters and fighters from other militant groups. However, “none of these reintegration programs succeeded in enabling any significant number of ex-combatants to socially and economically rejoin civil society,” SIGAR’s report said.
“Many factors that contributed to the failure of previous reintegration programs persist to this day, creating an environment that is not conducive to a renewed reintegration effort while the insurgency is ongoing,” SIGAR noted, including a weak economy, weak and disorganized central government in Kabul and the continued insurgency itself.