Taliban say Afghan Deash leader turned himself in, was not arrested

Photo of Aslam Farooqi, aka Abdullah Orakzai., the alleged chief of IS-Khorasan Province (ISKP) was arrested in Afghanistan, said a statement issued by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Saturday. (Credit : NSD Photo)
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Updated 07 April 2020

Taliban say Afghan Deash leader turned himself in, was not arrested

  • Taliban spokesman says Aslam Farooqi surrendered to Afghan forces after Taliban siege of Kunar
  • Farooqi’s arrest announcement came after two deadly attacks in Kabul, for which Daesh claimed responsibility

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban have rejected an announcement by government forces that a regional Daesh leader was captured in a special security operation.

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said in a statement on Saturday that Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with 19 other Daesh militants in a “complex operation.” The statement did not reveal when and where the arrests took place.

According to Taliban sources, Farooqi turned himself in to the authorities to seek shelter from a Taliban siege on Daesh in northeastern Kunar province.

“The government forces have in fact given him shelter and now they take credit and are claiming his arrest,” Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News in an audio message on Sunday.

“The mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate had besieged Farooqi in Mazar Darra area in Kunar and he established contact with the Kabul administration’s forces and surrendered to the government in the wake of his contact,” Mujahid said, adding that Farooqi and other Daesh operatives “were taken to a guest house by the government forces under an understanding with them.”

Farooqi’s arrest announcement came after two deadly attacks in Kabul, for which Daesh claimed responsibility.

On March 25, the group killed at least 25 people at a Sikh temple. On March 6, Daesh gunmen opened fire at a political rally, killing 30 and wounding over 60 others.

The Daesh have been on their back foot following operations by US forces and separately by the Afghan Taliban.

Hundreds of Daesh militants have surrendered to Afghan forces in recent months in Nangarhar province — the group’s stronghold in Afghanistan — while others fled to nearby mountainous Kunar province, which borders Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal district.


US launches first Taliban air strikes since Afghan ceasefire end

Updated 6 min 9 sec ago

US launches first Taliban air strikes since Afghan ceasefire end

  • Taliban had announced a surprise three-day Eid ceasefire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26
  • The group has argely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since the peace deal was signed

KABUL: The US launched its first air strikes against the Taliban since a rare cease-fire between the insurgents and Afghan forces ended more than a week ago, the US military said Friday.
The two assaults took place on Thursday and Friday in separate provinces in Afghanistan, US forces spokesman Sonny Leggett said on Twitter.
“These were the 1st US airstrikes against (the Taliban) since the start of the Eid cease-fire,” he wrote.
“We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold,” he added.
Ten members of the Afghan forces were killed on Friday in a separate attack targeting a Humvee vehicle, the Interior Ministry said, blaming the assault on the Taliban.
There was no immediate comment from the group.
The Taliban announced a surprise three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26 to mark the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with the Afghan government saying it is ready to start long-delayed peace talks with the insurgents.
The US negotiator with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, left Friday for the region to discuss “the practical next steps necessary for a smooth start to intra-Afghan negotiations,” the State Department said.
He will visit Kabul as well as Qatar, where he regularly meets the Taliban, as well as Pakistan, the historic ally of the insurgents.
Washington signed a landmark deal with the Taliban in February, in which the United States pledged to withdraw all its troops in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for negotiations between warring Afghan sides.
The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since the deal was signed, but have continued to target Afghan forces.
Under the agreement, which excluded the Afghan government, Washington and the militants said they would refrain from attacking each other.
However, the Pentagon last month said it would continue to conduct defensive strikes against the Taliban when they attack Afghan partners.
The February deal will see all US and foreign forces quit Afghanistan by mid-2021, nearly 20 years after Washington first invade.
Thousands of US troops have already gone, with a senior US defense official last month putting the number left in the country at approximately 8,500.