Ex-Afghan intelligence chief claims ISIS-K members remain active

KABUL, Afghanistan — Zia Siraj, former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence, contradicted Taliban claims by stating that key members of ISIS-K, the Khorasan branch of Daesh, including their leader Sanaullah, are “alive and active.”

In an chat with Amu on Friday, Siraj warned of increased urban and cross-border attacks by ISIS-K under directives from the main ISIS leadership in Syria and Iraq. “All key figures of ISIS Khorasan, even those apprehended during the Republic era, remain active. We’ve received reports of directives for intensified guerrilla and urban attacks,” he said.

Siraj highlighted the group’s tendency to target vulnerable neighborhoods, emphasizing their anti-Shia operations. He noted that future attacks are likely in urban centers like Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kunduz, with Kunar province and remote areas of Nangarhar serving as their main bases.

Discussing ISIS-K’s organizational changes, he mentioned Salahuddin’s new role in managing operations outside Afghanistan. “Both Salahuddin and Sanaullah have ties with the Haqqani network and are involved in Kabul operations. Some Taliban elements continue to assist ISIS leadership,” Siraj claimed.

He also addressed the unusual intelligence-sharing situation, where Western, Iranian, and Chinese agencies provide ISIS-related information to the Taliban. Despite this, key ISIS-K figures, except for Qari Fateh, have not been captured or eliminated in the past two years.

“Sanaullah, Salahuddin, Sultan Aziz, and Muawiya are prominent within ISIS-K, with Aslam Farooqi gaining activity,” he added.

This statement follows the Taliban’s Acting Defense Minister’s recent comment about ISIS members entering Afghanistan from Tajikistan and Pakistan, though the Taliban has not yet acknowledged ISIS as a significant threat.