With the US forces exiting the conflict-ridden country, reports have found that a former Taliban leader has now turned into a recruiter for Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan.
Mullah Abdul Rauf is a former Taliban commander from Helmand province, who recently declared his allegiance to ISIS and is now reportedly running a recruitment cell for the radical group in Afghanistan.
In a 2010 article in Long War Journal on Afghan Taliban's top leaders, Bill Roggio identified "Mullah Abdul Raouf (or Rauf)" as a former Taliban governor of Paktia province and a military commander in the northeast.
It is said that initially Mullah Abdul Rauf was also part of the Taliban's inner circle known as the Quetta Shura.
Quetta Shura members are veterans of the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s. A majority are mullahs, or Islamic clerics, who adhere to Deobandism – a puritanical sect of Sunni Islam in South Asia. Mullah Rauf was apparently kicked out of the Quetta Shura in 2011 over ideological differences with the group.
It is reported that, Rauf, who is now seen as an ISIS leader in Afganisatan, spent six years in Guantanamo Bay after being captured by US forces in 2001.
A local tribesman from a village council in Sangin district told the BBC that the new ISIS cell in Afghanistan under Mullah Rauf has been raking up conflict with the Taliban besides replacing white Taliban flags with the black flags of ISIS.
In recent conflicts between ISIS and Taliban at least 20 people from both sides were reportedly killed and injured.
The rise of ISIS in Afghanistan under Mullah Abdul Rauf also has been confirmed by the head of the Afghan army unit responsible for the area.
"A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema (religious council members) and other people told me that Mullah Rauf had contacted them and invited them to join him," General Mahmood Khan, the deputy commander of the army's 215 Corps told CBS.
He said they were trying to win support for the ISIS cause, and were "preparing to fight".
In other development, a former spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban recently appeared in a video online, saying that there were several ISIS commanders operating in the region, and that the Pakistani Taliban were now allied to the movement.
There is no independent verification of this claim, but the video had images of several commanders across Afghanistan who were also said to be now backing the Islamic State.