Afghan Taliban Splinter Group's New Chief Backs Islamic State 'Brothers' -- But Only Abroad
RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
The new leader of an Afghan Taliban splinter faction has offered words of support for Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda militants, but says that they are not welcome to operate in Afghanistan.
Mullah Mohammad Rasul, leader of a dissident Taliban faction calling itself the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate, told a November 7 rally in the western Herat province that the group will not harm any "mujahedin -- whether they are Daesh [the IS militant group] or Al-Qaeda -- who are fighting in other countries."
"They are our brothers; [but] we will not let them in [Afghanistan] nor will we agree with them in this country. They should not interfere here. We highly appreciate them while they are [outside Afghanistan]," Rasul told some 6,000 people who attended the rally in Zerkoh, in the Shindand district.
Rasul, a Taliban veteran, was recently chosen to lead the splinter group in its fight against U.S.-led forces and the Afghan government in Kabul.
The Afghan Taliban has been beset by infighting since Mullah Akhtar Mansur was named its leader in July after the announcement that the militant group's founding leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been dead since 2013.
An unidentified militant commander was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying earlier this month that Rasul had "spent 10 years with Mullah Omar and was one of his trusted men."