No audio message was heard from him.. Get to know “Shehab Al-Muhajir”, the leader of the Islamic State in Afghanistan

Analysts believe that Shihab al-Muhajir was not able to target the Taliban as expected. Therefore, blacklisting his name may help the organization’s leadership to find a replacement for him.

Kabul- The United States has placed 3 of the leaders of the Islamic State in Afghanistan on the list of “global terrorism”, including the leader of the organization, Thanaullah Ghafari. On December 21, the Security Council Sanctions Committee added the name “Shehab al-Muhajir” – one of Ghafari’s pseudonyms – to the sanctions list. A day later, the European Union added the “migrant” to its sanctions list as well.

This decision came in light of a series of attacks led by the organization in Afghanistan, for which it claimed responsibility. The decision included the emir of the group, Thanaullah Ghafari, and its spokesman, Sultan Aziz Azzam Mawlawi Rajab, according to a statement published by the US State Department.

A circulating photo of Thana Allah Ghafari, nicknamed Shihab Al-Muhajir (Al-Jazeera)

Who is Shihab al-Muhajir?

“Shehab al-Muhajir” belongs to a wealthy family in Afghanistan, his real name is Engineer Thanaullah Ghafari, born in 1990, and he graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Kabul University, after a delay of more than a year.

In June 2020, ISIS announced “Al-Muhajir” as the organization’s new emir, after the arrest of its former emir, Islam Farooqi, in 2019 in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

Another security source says that the leader of ISIS (Khorasan Branch) is of Iraqi nationality, and uses the pseudonym “Shana Allah Ghafari”.

A source in the Afghan intelligence – Al Jazeera Net – stated that information about the life and activity of “Shehab al-Muhajir” is very scarce, and that he visited Iraq and Syria and took 35 young men with him after he pledged allegiance to the former leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He added that “he has extensive military experience, and so far no audio message has been heard from him, but his photos that are circulated on social media are correct.”

Sixth Leader

And 4 of the top ISIS leaders were killed during raids by drones belonging to the US forces or the Afghan security forces, 4 years after the organization was established in eastern Afghanistan in 2015. The fifth commander – Islam Farooqi – of the Orakzai tribe who lives near Afghan-Pakistan border.

And “Shehab al-Muhajir” is the sixth leader of the organization, and his name was included in the American and British blacklist after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, due to his involvement in suicide attacks.

Journalist Karim Jalili says that “Al-Muhajir” failed to recruit new fighters despite the provision of the appropriate environment for this, as a large number of ISIS detainees were released from government prisons, following the collapse of the previous Afghan government.

Jalili believes – in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net – that the leader of the organization was not able to target the Taliban, as was expected of him. Therefore, the writer believes that “inclusion of his name in the blacklist will help the leadership of the organization to search for an alternative.”

Members of the Islamic State in Khorasan (Al-Jazeera)

Taliban headache

Although the outgoing Afghan President, Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, announced the elimination of ISIS in eastern Afghanistan in 2019 and the control of its strongholds in the Achin district and some areas in Kunar, the organization – after the collapse of the Ghani government – emerged on the scene of events in Afghanistan after it adopted the double attack on Kabul Airport , which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

His attacks also targeted two mosques in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south, and prompted the new Afghan government to review its accounts in dealing with ISIS.

Afghan Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki says that the previous government released 1,800 ISIS detainees from Bagram prison and Paul Charkhi prison, and that “this gave us a big headache.”

But Mottaki – added to Al Jazeera Net – “we managed to control the situation and fought the organization in the main cities, and we assure the world that we are committed to the Doha agreement, which stipulates that Afghan lands shall not be used against others.”

Currently, ISIS activity is a potential threat to the new Afghan government; Especially after targeting government forces and mosques in several major cities, while the security forces focus on fighting the organization in its main stronghold, and do not allow it to spread to other areas of the country.

A government source states – to Al Jazeera Net – that the new Afghan government has sent more than a thousand security personnel to the east of the country to eliminate the organization and control its main strongholds.

According to the source, the security forces are trying to exhaust the organization before the spring comes so that it cannot confront it, because the central command believes that the spring will be difficult and that the battlefields will flare up if the organization manages to infiltrate the main cities.

Copying Taliban tactics

The Islamic State is copying many of the urban warfare tactics used by the Taliban against the former Afghan government and foreign forces. Field leaders do not hide their concerns about the organization’s activity in major cities.

An Afghan intelligence source says – to Al-Jazeera Net – that “ISIS uses the same previous methods to target officials and civilians in major cities, and it still represents a threat despite the dismantling of its main structure, and in light of the security forces working in small groups, which constitutes another challenge to control the organization.” “.

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