first published on April 21, 2018 by Josh
Qari Hikmatullah was, until April 5th, 2018, the leader of ISIS-K operations in Northern Afghanistan. He acted as not only the military leader of the group, but also as the primary facilitator for bringing foreign fighters and logistical aid from Central Asian states into Afghanistan to support Islamic State operations in the country. A native Uzbekistani, he had ties with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Taliban before settling into a leadership position at ISIS-K in Northern Afghanistan. ISIS-K reportedly named Mawlavi Habibul Rahman, another native Uzbekistani, as Hikmatullah’s successor, but this new leader may be causing a rift within the group due to his inability to bring in new fighters and logistics from Central Asian countries.
The airstrike that was conducted on April 5th to kill Hikmatullah and his bodyguard was conducted by the United States in order to cause division with the Islamic State group in Northern Afghanistan. Prior to this airstrike, the United States led several raids deep into their territory and managed to kill four Islamic State fighters, as well as a platoon level leader. These raids, conducted by United States Special Operations teams and Afghan Security Forces, when combined with crucial airstrikes have effectively denied critical leadership from developing in the group, and have denied them the ability of gaining a strong foothold in the remote and isolated area of Jowzjan.
Continued raids and airstrikes against ISIS-K will deny them the ability of gaining steam in Afghanistan. Currently. the group’s operations are not making them any long-term allies in Afghanistan as they have been heavily reliant on tribal rivalries, short-term allegiances, and outside support to bolster their operations. These tactics are highly ineffective in Afghanistan, where groups like the Taliban have been operating for decades, using resources that they have on-hand directly inside of the country. Due to these ineffective measures used by ISIS-K, they are combating not only Operation Resolute Support and Afghan Security Forces, but also the much stronger and experienced Taliban groups within the country who believe that ISIS-K has no place in Afghanistan.
When ISIS-K was first attempting to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, we even saw brief periods where American Airstrikes were being conducted in support of Taliban operations in order to heavily diminish the initial shock that ISIS-K could have in the country. You can view some of the earlier footage at this link, where a Taliban fighter is even quoted as saying that he prays for American airstrikes now, because they help them push back the Islamic State fighters they are dealing with on a daily basis in their area of operations. At the same time however, we have also seen the two groups partner up in order to defeat and overwhelm government positions, so the mad house in Afghanistan is still on, full-tilt.
At least we have this epic footage of the Qari Hikmatullah having a warhead dropped directly on top of his forehead.