UN Security Council report claims up to 6,500 Pakistani fighters in Afghanistan

  • Date of Publication : 25/07/2020 at 12:37 GMT

The United Nations Security Council said in a report this week that an “estimated 6,000 to 6,500 Pakistani terrorist fighters” were currently in Afghanistan and posed a threat to both countries.

According to the 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, published on Thursday, most of these fighters were Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members and were led by Amir Noor Wali Mehsud.

The UN report was on Daesh and al-Qaeda and associated groups operating around the world.

On the topic of COVID-19, the monitoring team said the pandemic was having an effect on terrorism but the impact of coronavirus was varied.

In some regions, groups were using the pandemic to advance propaganda and fundraising, and in some regions, these groups are seeking to take advantage of perceptions that the attention of security forces is diverted elsewhere.

“At the same time, the pandemic has made cross-border travel more difficult and targets more elusive, and the operational tempo of attacks has slowed discernibly in some regions,” read the report.

The report stated that al-Qaeda meanwhile is entrenching in regions beyond its historical stronghold in Afghanistan, where it faces a serious challenge if the peace process develops momentum.

The group “exploits the tarnished ISIL (Daesh) brand and societal fractures to enhance legitimacy and gain local traction and recruits. The relationship between ISIL and al-Qaeda remains fraught and idiosyncratic, depending on regional dynamics.”

The report stated that Daesh had suffered severe reverses in its former Afghan strongholds of Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces, “but it is too soon to discount it as a threat”.

The report warned that Daesh does however hope to exploit changing dynamics between the Taliban, Daesh and al-Qaeda in the context of the Afghan peace process.

According to the agreement between the US and the Taliban, signed in February, it is envisaged that the Taliban will continue to fight Daesh and suppress any threat from al-Qaeda.

However, the report stated that al-Qaeda and Daesh in West Africa and Sahel continued to enjoy operational success in early 2020.

The report added that the strength of al-Qaeda in and around Idlib in the north-west of Syria and “the fragility of the situation” was troubling. Daesh “also enjoys safe haven in that region.” read the report.

Meanwhile, the UN stated that Daesh continues to suffer losses in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, to where it moved from Nangarhar at the end of 2019.