- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Islamic State in Afghanistan today shared shocking images of its fighters beheading a Taliban as children watched and cheered.

It is a gruesome reminder that if the Trump administration and Afghanistan government ever reach a peace deal with the Taliban they would still face a growing ISIS enemy.

The Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors jihadi Internet traffic, said three photos posted on the app Telegram showed “many children, one of whom is armed, standing at the front of the crowd to witness beheading.”

The children and adults in civilian clothing appear to be cheering on the butchers.

MEMRI said ISIS dressed the victim in red and identified him as Fadl Ahmad from Kunar Province.

ISIS and Taliban are both Sunni Muslim extremists group fighting for control of territory, especially in northeast Kunar. The two are up against Afghan government troops and U.S.-led NATO forces who have fought in Afghanistan since the fall 2001.

ISIS identifies the Afghan branch as ISIS-Khorasan Province which includes operations in Central Asia and Pakistan.

“ISIS considers Taliban members to be apostates who can thus be lawfully killed,” MEMRI said.

ISIS is a relatively new threat in Afghanistan, feeding off the terrorists’ inroads in Syrian and Iraq. Its declaration of a new Islamic State attracted thousands of international recruits. The so-called “caliphate” was eventually crushed by allied forces but violent remnants remain.

The Pentagon’s latest report on Afghanistan called ISIS a “substantial threat” as it continues to gain ground.

“Terrorist and insurgent groups continue to challenge Afghan, U.S., and Coalition forces,” said the June 2019 report, Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. “During this reporting period, ISIS-K made territorial gains in eastern Afghanistan. Regionally the group continues to evade, counter, and resist sustained [counter terrorism] pressure. While ISIS-K remains operationally limited to South and Central Asia, the group harbors intentions to attack international targets.”

Why publicize a beheading as children’ entertainment?

Recruitment remains an ISIS priority.

“Social media remains the primary method for ISIS affiliates to communicate, and it is also a medium through which ISIS propaganda influences online,” the Pentagon said.

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