Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

ISIS in Afghanistan is like the boogeyman under the bed

2 min

The Week, 27 January 2015

The Week, the weekly to the Global Post, relaunches an article by Jean MacKenzie and Aziz Ahmad Tasal, reflecting on the reports of IS intrusions into the Af-Pak arena, quoting, among others, AAN’s Borhan Osman with a differentiated, cautioning statement.

Osman, the authors write, has “debunked many of the myths that have grown up around IS in Afghanistan” in an AAN dispatch in November 2014. Referring to a widely reported incident in Ghazni province, in which alleged IS-allied militants allegedly killed more than 100 people, beheading 15, and setting more than 60 houses ablaze,  Osman said this was “enormously exaggerated” and, upon closer examination boiled down to a sadly common event: a Taliban attack on several local Afghan police posts, in which the insurgents set fire to a few houses, and a dozen or so officers were killed. The reports of IS involvement were, Osman says, an “SOS message” from the police to prompt intervention from the national forces or the international troops. IS was nowhere to be seen, he insists.

“Osman says other alarmist reports were similarly overblown, including an article in Foreign Policy magazine with the provocative title “ISIS makes inroads in Afghanistan, Pakistan.”

“It is not justifiable to conclude from such a limited and low-quality propaganda effort that IS is making inroads in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Osman wrote. But Osman acknowledges there is interest in the Islamic State among various layers of the Afghan public.

“Despite its lack of presence in Afghanistan, the spectacular rise of IS in Syria and Iraq and consequent global interest in the group has sparked widespread debate about its presence and possible future in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “IS is a globally interesting story and IS-related stories sell in the media at the moment. IS has a strong brand-recognition, so claiming membership or claiming the group is a threat might be useful for raising funds and profiles — whether one is in opposition or in government.”