Residents of Achin district in Nangarhar province who survived life under Daesh almost for three years are still remembering the scars and the horror they witnessed under the extremist group. When Daesh outfits initially announced their presence in mid-2014, the hardline militant group quickly transformed all aspects of daily life in some of Afghanistan’s remote regions in the east including Nanagarhar’s Achin district.
In this report, TOLOnews’ reporter Sharif Amiri, who recently visited the area, has reflected some of the untold stories of the residents under Daesh rule in the east.
The areas which were used by Daesh as hideouts and training centers for their new recruits have now turned into a marketplace which witnesses a large number of customers on a daily basis.
There is no sign of the black-colored flags and propaganda on the walls in Shadal Bazar, the local market in Achin. The flags have now been replaced with Afghanistan’s flag and the shops have given a colorful image to the area. The shops sell everything from vegetables, commodities, to beverages and candies which is the favorite of the Achin residents.
Ahmad 9, who at the time was only seven years old, was one of the victims of the repressive group who was kidnapped from his school and received military training for four months in a Daesh camp in the east of Afghanistan.
Ahmad was ready to go for a suicide mission after being brainwashed at a Daesh training camp.
“They were also showing me videos and were saying that you should cut the heads of these infidels,” said Ahmad.
After realizing the threats facing Ahmad, his father decided to sell everything and evacuate him from Achin. But, in response, Daesh fighters destroyed his home.
But life is coming back to normal in Achin three years after the militant group invaded the area. People are impatiently waiting to relocate to their hometown.
Businesses are reopening and people are happy that Daesh has been defeated in the area.
“My son was in Daesh custody for 19 days. He was later martyred by Daesh,” said Amanullah, an Achin resident.
President Ashraf Ghani in his trip to Nangarhar on January 10 vowed to implement more development projects in Nangarhar districts while he praised the Afghan forces and the residents’ resilience in the fight against Daesh.
When reports Initially surfaced in the media about the emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan, the Afghan political and security leadership tried to play down the rumors of growing influence of the group in the country and said it did not have the capacity to infiltrate and carry out attacks in Afghanistan. But this observation was totally miscalculated as it was not based on facts or credible intelligence reports.
At first, the Afghan government claimed the rumors about Daesh fighters in Afghanistan was just propaganda. But within the span of a few months, the reality of the situation emerged when it became clear the brutal and ideologically extremist group was active in the unstable regions in eastern Afghanistan.
Daesh first appeared in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces – both of which border Pakistan – when they hanged several Taliban commanders who refused to pledge allegiance to the group.
This however was just the start of yet another issue for a nation that was still trying to rid itself of the oppression imposed by the Taliban militancy.
With the announcement of a caliphate by Daesh’s infamous leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in June 2014, the group quickly found some supporters among extremist individuals in Afghanistan. In early September 2014, reports surfaced of Daesh leaflets being distributed in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and nearby Afghan regions where some militants pledged allegiance to the group.
On January 26, 2015, Daesh announced Afghanistan-Pakistan and nearby regions as its Khorasan province with Hafiz Saeed Khan as its governor and Abdul Rauf as his deputy - after both swore an oath of allegiance to the group’s leader Baghdadi.
On February 9, 2015, Mullah Abdul Rauf was killed by a NATO airstrike, and his replacement, Hafiz Wahidi, was killed by the Afghan security forces on March 18, 2015. Hafiz Saeed Khan, the Emir of Daesh’s Khorasan Province, was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan on July 25, 2016.