“They (IS loyalists) came in on many white pickup trucks mounted with big machine guns and fought the Taliban. The Taliban could not resist and fled,” said Haji Abdul Jan, a tribal elder from Achin district. Jan, who saw the early June clashes before fleeing to the provincial capital of Jalalabad, said some villagers welcomed the new arrivals. “Unlike the Taliban, they (IS) don’t force villagers to feed and house them. Instead, they have lots of cash in their pockets and spend it on food and luring young villagers to join them.”
Their accounts are the clearest sign yet that, beyond a few defections by low-level Taliban leaders and sporadic attacks, Islamic State sympathizers pose a more persistent threat. IS loyalists, mostly former Taliban disillusioned by the movement’s unsuccessful bid to return to power in Kabul, are accompanied by dozens of foreign fighters, witnesses said. The IS’ black flag has been hoisted in some areas, and foreign fighters preach in mosques through translators. The identity of the non-Afghan insurgents is not known. Hundreds of militants from around the world already hide out along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Local officials said fighters following IS have seized some territory from the Taliban in at least six of 21 Nangarhar districts. They are Kot, Achin, Deh Bala, Naziyan, Rodat and Chaparhar.