Top Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Friday claiming assessments that the Islamic State (ISIS) is a growing threat in Afghanistan are “incorrect” – a response to concerns following Taliban “foreign minister” Amir Khan Muttaqi confirming that 1,800 Islamic State terrorists had escaped prisons last year.
“The assessment of the rise of the ISIS phenomenon in Afghanistan is incorrect and far from reality,” Mujahid wrote. “Causing concerns about the campaign against [ISIS] seditionists is something that should not be done. The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] and the people of Afghanistan will not allow ISIS to establish a nest in the country. ISIS has been defeated in Afghanistan and is disappearing.”
Taliban officials have repeatedly insisted that the Islamic State does not present a threat to the country. In the process of capturing the country last year, the Taliban reportedly freed thousands of Islamic State terrorists from Afghan prisons, calling into question the alleged rivalry between the two.
“I don’t know the exact number — clearly it’s in the thousands when you consider both prisons, because both of them were taken over by the Taliban and emptied,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters in August.
“Foreign Minister Muttaqi conceded the release of ISIS prisoners during his speech at the Tashkent conference on Tuesday, July 26. However, he claimed that during the previous 11 months of Taliban administration, the group had grown strong enough to subdue ISIS fighters,” Khaama Press reported.