It appears the Islamic State’s territorial motivations extend well beyond Syria and Iraq, as recent reports reveal the organization’s recruitment and expansion efforts in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, has established a redoubt in Zamin Dawar area of Kajaki district, according to tribal elders and senior U.S. officials. Moreover, the potential rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Afghanistan and the international star power their leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, holds presents a dilemma for Afghan Taliban seeking their own post-Karzai reconciliation, or continued resistance with the Ghani-Abdullah coalition government.

Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a mid-level Taliban commander with deep connections to the illicit narcotics industry and who served as shadow governor of Uruzgan from 2007 to at least 2009, has established a new base of operations for ISIS in northern Helmand. Recently his militia clashed with northern Helmand shadow governor Mullah Ahmad Shah, resulting in a half dozen killed; other reports suggest up to twenty killed. According to an Afghan Army general in Helmand, Rauf is planting ISIS cells throughout numerous Helmand districts; another general insists they have spread into neighboring Herat and Farah provinces; while two senators in the Afghan parliament assert ISIS operates in the northern Faryab and eastern Ghazni provinces. Click below to read the full article at Foreign Policy.

“Capture the Flag in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy, January 2015.