By Atul Aneja
The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has significantly stepped up its information war targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran and China.
In its visceral campaign against Taliban, which has been mutating into a Pashtun nationalist force, shedding substantially its puritanical past, the ISKP has released a new online propaganda magazine.
The new outfit, released in Pashto, on May 11 is called “Khurasan Ghag”. The title is a translation of “Voice of Khurasan”, which has already been in existence in the English language. But in order to broaden its local reach, the content of the Khurasan Ghag has been significantly changed. Unsurprisingly, the Pashto version covers a lot of local issues, in comparison to the English version which is more focused on international events and developments.
The Khurasan Ghag takes the cue from the “Yalghar”—a magazine in Urdu published by the Islamic State in Pakistan Province (ISPP), which first appeared in June 2021.
The new round of information war follows the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 15, 2021. The first issue therefore slams the Taliban, accusing it of working together with the Shia community.
But it is the second issue of the Khurasan Ghag that pours vitriol over the Taliban. The 81-page publication blasts Taliban’s Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Mottaqi for meeting with the chairman of the council of Shia Ulama and other influential figures. Besides, the magazine details the Taliban’s ties with the United Nations, which calls for the international recognition of the government led by Taliban, provided it rejects Sharia.
An article by Riccardo Valle points out that the ISKP’s media hub, the Al-Azaim Foundation, even prior to the takeover by the Taliban, was highly critical of the group. For instance, in May 2021, the affiliated Khalid Media published an 18-minute-long video which criticised the Taliban for having relations with “Communist China”, accusing the group of covertly endorsing the ongoing repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. More recently, Al-Azaim Foundation released a video slamming Kabul’s new government for opening its diplomatic relations with Russia, China, and Pakistan.
The magazine firmly brings Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the ISKP’s cross-hairs. The touchstone of the propaganda is ISKP’s first ever attack on a military base in Termez, Uzbekistan on the April 18. Ten Katyusha rockets were fired. The Uzbek channel Tawheed News released a 24-minute-long Uzbek-language audio statement titled “The blessed attack of Termez”. The statement announced that the jihad for Central Asia had been officially started. It called for attacks in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
During the remaining days of the month of Ramadan, ISKP Tajik and Uzbek channels published several posters and messages with the al-Azaim Foundation’s logo praising the Termez attack.
On May 3 the Al-Azaim Foundation and Xuroson Ovozi released a new 16-minute-long video featuring the Termez attack. The speaker then threatens to attack the so called “Russian empire” as well as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The speaker boasts that several Central Asian fighters of ISKP had drawn from combat experience in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Syria, and Iraq. They were now ready to fight in Transoxiana, as this region is closely connected with Khorasan.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)