Suspected head of ISIS shadow court arrested in Afghanistan, officials say
KABUL, Afghanistan — A senior member of the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate has been arrested, the latest high-profile member of the group to be detained this month, local officials said Wednesday.
Muneeb, a fighter with several aliases, was captured by forces from the National Directorate of Security, the country’s main intelligence agency said in a statement.
The Pakistani national, a former al-Qaida member who shifted allegiance to Islamic State – Khorasan Province, was a member of ISIS-K’s central council and headed its shadow court, Afghan officials said.
In a recorded confession released by the NDS, a man who says he’s Muneeb also admits to working to strengthen ties between ISIS-K and other terrorist groups.
NDS officials would not say exactly when and where Muneeb was captured.
The arrest comes less than three weeks after the NDS announced it had arrested ISIS-K leader Abdullah Orakzai and over a dozen other militants from the group.
Sustained American airstrikes, security forces operations and fighting between ISIS-K and the Taliban led to the surrenders of roughly 300 ISIS-K fighters in the final months of 2019. In January, the U.S. military said in a report that the group’s stronghold in eastern Nangarhar province was “dismantled.”
Still, ISIS-K continues to claim attacks throughout the country, such as when gunmen stormed a Sikh temple in Kabul’s old town on March 25, killing over two dozen people.
That attack came less than a week after an ISIS-K fighter fired rockets at Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in the country and a hub for the U.S.-led coalition. The rockets were shot down without causing injuries or damage to the base, coalition and local officials said.
The U.S. military estimates between 2,000 and 2,500 ISIS-K fighters remain active in Afghanistan, according to the latest data reported by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released in January.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.