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Islamic State Militants in Afghanistan


Image from a video released by the Islamic State group (IS) on January 27, 2015 purportedly showing Hafiz Said Khan, center, head of the IS branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at an undisclosed location on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Image from a video released by the Islamic State group (IS) on January 27, 2015 purportedly showing Hafiz Said Khan, center, head of the IS branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at an undisclosed location on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

This week, Afghan officials acknowledged that elements of the so-called Islamic State are present in the country. Reports of clashes between the militant group and Taliban fighters have already surfaced, sparking a new wave of fear among Afghans who feel increasingly vulnerable as NATO withdraws from the region.

This edition of RFE/RLive examined the myth vs. the reality of the Islamic State group's presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its potential impact in the region.

WATCH the discussion:

Sean Carberry is an award-winning journalist who just returned from a two-and-a-half year assignment in Afghanistan as NPR’s Kabul correspondent. In addition to Afghanistan, Carberry has reported extensively from more than two dozen countries in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Europe, covering such stories as the war in Iraq, the Arab Spring, and Syrian refugees. He graduated from Lehigh University and has a Master’s Degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Daud Khattak is a senior editor with RFE/RL's Pakistan service, Radio Mashaal. A frequent contributor to “The Christian Science Monitor” and “Foreign Policy,” Khattak previously worked in Kabul for Afghanistan's Pajhwok Afghan News agency and in Peshawar for the “London Sunday Times,” “The News International,” and “Daily Times.” He is an expert on militancy in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Pakistani Taliban, and Pashtun politics and society.

Abubakar Siddique, the author of "The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan," covers Afghanistan and Pakistan for RFE/RL and is the chief editor of the Gandhara website. He has spent the past 15 years researching and writing about security, political, humanitarian, and cultural issues in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Siddique is also a regular speaker at think tanks in London and Washington, D.C., and has contributed articles and research to numerous publications.

Graeme Smith is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group in Afghanistan. He previously served as a foreign correspondent for “The Globe and Mail,” with postings in Moscow, Kandahar, Delhi, and Istanbul. He won an Emmy in 2009 for a video series on Taliban fighters. His best-selling book, "The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan," was nominated for four literary awards and won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust prize. He lives in Kabul.

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