Foreign Islamic State fighters captured by Taliban in Jawzjan

Following the Taliban’s rout of the Islamic State in the northern Afghan province of Jawzjan, a video (featured below) has circulated online purporting to show several foreign militants captured by the Taliban’s forces in the Darzab district. Many of these fighters are reportedly from Central Asia, however, other nationalities are also listed in the video.

According to the short clip, which has appeared on pro-Taliban channels on Telegram as well as Afghan pages on Facebook, over one dozen foreign militants are shown surrendering to the Taliban. A Taliban commander is seen calling each of the surrendering fighters individually, in which their nationality can be heard.

Most of the fighters appear to be from Central Asia (specifically Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan), however, others are reportedly from Indonesia, Turkey, and France. Three children can also be seen surrendering with the Islamic State fighters. The video, if accurate, allows for a more detailed look at the composition of the Islamic State’s forces in northern Afghanistan.

The foreign fighters were likely part of Qari Hikmatullah’s network. Hikmatullah was the Islamic State’s top commander in the north who also served as the group’s senior foreign fighter facilitator in northern Afghanistan. It is likely these militants were brought into Jawzjan under his command. Hikmatullah was killed by a US airstrike in April and was replaced by Mawlavi Habibul Rahman.

Rahman, as well as two other major Islamic State leaders, surrendered to the Afghan government in recent days, along with almost 200 of their men after being “completely defeated” by the Taliban. However, it is unlikely that the Islamic State has been “completely defeated” in the north. The group continues to have a presence in other districts in Jawzjan as well as neighboring Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces.

It is unclear how many of the 200 are also foreign fighters, though, the Islamic State is also known to recruit heavily among the native populations of Afghanistan.

Pictures and videos of these surrender ceremonies have also been circulating quite heavily, in not only Afghan media, but also on pro-Taliban and pro-al Qaeda channels on Telegram.

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Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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