Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) seeks to strengthen its capabilities by recruiting members from other terror groups and if succeeded in regaining control over the lost territory in eastern Afghanistan, the outfit may prove difficult for the Taliban to reverse such gains, a UN report has said.
The 15th report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da'esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of member states in countering the threat said on Saturday that the militant group views Afghanistan as a base for expansion in the wider region for the realization of its "great caliphate" project.
"It is unclear whether the ISIL-K can regain control over lost territory in eastern Afghanistan. Should it succeed, it may prove difficult for the Taliban to reverse such gains and, according to one member state, the ISIL-K would then be positioned to develop a global threat capability from Afghanistan," the report said.
"The ISIL-K seeks to strengthen its capabilities by recruiting members from other terrorist groups, as well as to attract disaffected Taliban fighters and local ethnic minorities," the report said.
According to the report, one member state reported the defection of 50 Uighur fighters from the eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement to ISIL-K.
Several member states reported that ISIL-K was able to recruit thanks to higher monthly payments to fighters.
In Afghanistan, Sanaullah Ghafari remains the leader of ISIL-K.
Other leadership figures are reported by one member state to include Mawlawi Rajab Salahuddin (alias Mawlawi Hanas) as deputy, Sultan Aziz Azzam(spokesperson), Abu Mohsin (head of finance), Qari Shahadat (head of training), Qari Saleh (head of intelligence), and Qari Fateh (head of military operations).
The report said that it appears that attacks claimed or attributed to ISIL-K have decreased, while their geographical spread has widened.
In April and May, the ISIL-K claimed to have fired rockets into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although both countries denied that rockets reached their territories, the risk of such attacks remains.
"The aims were intended to demonstrate the inability of de facto security forces to control borders and to attract new ISIL-K recruits from the region," it said.
Member states also report that the ability of Da'esh leadership to direct and maintain control over the flow of funds to global affiliates remains resilient and that such flow represents an important element of the loyalty shown by affiliated groups.
According to several member states, all transactions involving affiliates are directed by Da'esh leadership.
Recipients include the Da'esh affiliate in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan, through trusted cash couriers, as well as affiliates in Africa, through the Karrar "office" in Somalia, which is cited as dealing with fund transfers inside and outside of Africa.
One member state highlighted the emerging importance of individuals in South Africa in facilitating the transfer of funds from Da'esh leadership to affiliates in Africa.
The report added that during the first half of 2022, the threat posed by Da'esh and its affiliates to international peace and security continued to rise, with no deviation from the trend observed in the past two years.
"The threat remains particularly high in conflict-affected settings, from where it may potentially spill over to non-conflict areas. Despite significant leadership losses, Da'esh and its affiliates continue to exploit security gaps and conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism to recruit and to organize and execute complex attacks," it said.The global economic slowdown and growing inflation, as well as the fiscal and monetary measures implemented by governments in response to them, may render such conditions even more conducive to the spread of terrorism, potentially increasing the threat further, the report added.