By: Lailuma Noori
KABUL: Afghan forces arrested the leader of the country’s ISIS affiliate along with 19 other militants, authorities said on Saturday.
The National Directorate of Security said that Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with the other men in a “complex operation”.
According to NDS, Farooqi was the mastermind behind an ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people.
Known as Islamic State in the Khorasan, the ISIS branch has been on the back foot in recent months after continued operations by US forces and separately by the Taliban.
In November, Afghan officials said IS-K had been completely defeated in Nangarhar, one of the eastern provinces where they first sought to establish a stronghold in 2015. In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.
In its statement, the NDS said Farooqi had admitted to having links with “regional intelligence agencies” – a reference to Pakistan, which Afghanistan routinely blames for supporting militants and helping the Taliban.
US Forces-Afghanistan did not immediately respond to a query about Farooqi’s arrest.
Presence of Khurasan branch of the Islamic State (IS) is believed to be the worst experience in Afghanistan. Although the branch does not have the ability of big operations in Afghanistan, its fighters have focused on terrorizing Afghan citizens.