Pakistan’s ISI supports Taliban, al Qaeda in Nuristan, says Afghan parliament

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate continues to support the Taliban and al Qaeda in the northeastern province of Nuristan, according to the Afghan parliament’s Security Commission, while US forces have withdrawn from the area. From Ariana News:

Representatives of Wolesi Jirga’s Security Commission expressed concerns over the influence of Taliban in eastern Nuristan province.

“Some areas of the eastern Kunar and Nuristan province are being controlled by Taliban militants” commission members said.

Muhammad Naeem Lali Hameedzai, a member of Wolesi Jirga’s Security Commission said, “The Barg-i-Matal and Kamdesh district of Nuristan province are influenced by Taliban militants and have the financial and military support of ISI”.

Pakistani ISI support Arab, Pakistani and Uzbek militants and send them to these regions.

The members of the commission claim that 600 Afghan forces are resisting them.

RFE/RL provides more color on what is happening in the Kamdesh and Barg-i-Matal districts in Nuristan:

“If anybody opposes them, the insurgents burn their homes and threaten to kill them. I have witnessed several houses being burned and seen many of the inhabitants beaten,” Nuristani says. “Until the government intervenes, we don’t have the resources [to fight back]. We can’t do it alone.”

It’s not clear where the militants are from. Nuristani says they are members of the Pakistani Taliban, who control the Pakistani side of the border alongside Al-Qaeda operatives and fighters from the Hizb-e Islami group headed by notorious former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Calling For Help

Aziz Rahman, a village elder in Kamdesh, describes the militants as armed and wearing black clothing. He says the militants have set up a shadow government, opening local offices and collecting taxes from local residents.

“Kamdesh is under the control of the Taliban. The men in black clothing are here. They have opened a Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” Rahman says. “They are teaching religious material and are telling people to do the right things. If people violate the rules, then they get punished.”

​​Rahman says the new rules include a decree that states that all men must grow long beards and refrain from smoking tobacco. He says dozens of militants are roaming the streets in SUVs and searching locals at mosques and bazaars to ensure the new rules are being followed.

Now, keep in mind that the entire justification for withdrawing from Nuristan (and Kunar) was basically that the US presence in these remote areas fuels the local insurgency, and if US forces just left, the foreign (read: Pakistani and al Qaeda) support would dry up. This July 2009 report at the Institute for the Study of War is a good example of the thinking in military and intelligence circles back in 2009 when the decision to pull back from Kunar and Nuristan was made.

Yet more than two years since the US military’s withdrawal from these remote areas, “Arab, Pakistani and Uzbek militants” continue to infiltrate and operate in Kunar and Nuristan, something that we at LWJ have warned numerous times would happen.

For a more complete discussion of this subject, see Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda never left Kunar, and other problems with US intel.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: ,


  • mike merlo says:

    so much for the myth of an Afghan Taliban. I wonder how Hekmatyar feels about this ‘arrangement?’

  • blert says:

    The grand tactical problem of Nuristan is that it’s the tail of the dog.
    And it’s a tail that uses LOTS of helicopter resources.
    You can’t be every where… and the last place to put effort is Nuristan.
    The opfor is not advantaged by humping the Nuristan trails.
    The current focus of the ISAF is finally getting on target, IMHO.
    The other critical shift must be to shut down NGO projects. They burn up our logistics — and normally result in perverted impacts.
    We should not build anything that cannot be protected… and there is little that can be.
    It is essential that Islamabad be cut off financially.
    Much more than we’re willing to admit: we’ve been fighting our own money. (!)
    On their own, the Pakistani Army can’t afford to campaign in Afghanistan.
    Iran and Pakistan are in the same vise as Egypt and the Maghreb.
    ( As a side note: Japan’s tsunami has shut down her atomic reactors. All by itself this has triggered a massive demand for Iranian crude. Should Japan restart her reactors the price of OPEC crude should slide. )

  • Neonmeat says:

    Well from the sound of the natives on the ground they are not even that supportive of the Taliban moving in to their area, at best they seem indifferent.
    Although Bill would you say this is a good sign that Afghan Politicians are standing up and calling out Pakistan on this issue? Mayhap they are getting as sick of the Pakistanis meddling in their countries affairs as we are.
    I suppose the Pakistani Government can just go plausible deniability on this as well. If only they would realise they can ‘make friends and influence people’ in Afghanistan without sponsoring fundamentalist killers to do it by violence. If Afghanistan has the chance to form a genuine functioning Democratic Government then maybe the Pakistani people will wake up and realise they want one too.

  • jean says:

    So where is the Afghan Army??? Sitting in Kabul manning checkpoints or escorting drug convoys across the Iranian border This would be a great opportunity for the Afghans to make a stand and liberate their countrymen from the oppressive Tabilen. The snows have melted and the roads are open….have it my friends.
    We the (USA) should have no interest in returning to Nuristan. Strategically insignificant. The oppressed villagers and elders have a history of double cross and supporting the militants: Ranch House, Keating, and Wanat.

  • Villiger says:

    “It is essential that Islamabad be cut off financially.
    Much more than we’re willing to admit: we’ve been fighting our own money. (!)
    On their own, the Pakistani Army can’t afford to campaign in Afghanistan.”
    All too true. The logistics pipeline seems to be holding minus Paqistan. If that is so, it won’t be a day too soon to cut off the dole and watch Kayani squirm!
    To prevent Paq falling into Taliban hands and build goodwill with the people at large, start with helping them with their electric power crisis in the big cities where public opinion is first made, education second. All with strict conditions on their behaviour and control of the cash, without spreading it too thin. Such an approach could strengthen the civilian Govt. Also, go back to the memogate memo and work through what was being offered by the civilian Govt to get the military in check. Its the Paq military that is the root of the problem. Or as someone said, its not AfPak, Its Paq-Paq stupid!

  • Villiger says:

    Oh yes, and get China to pitch in too on the civil effort and to get Paq to sign up to some very tough pre-conditions. After all Paq and China are best-friends forever.

  • Charu says:

    Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is well past his expiration date, as are Hamid Gul, Hafiz Saeed, and the ISI’s S Wing. Blert’s analysis, as usual, is right on the money.

  • mike merlo says:

    re: Villiger
    in a case like Pakistan it’s not about cutting off financial aid if one really wants to screw up a place like Pakistan its all about who one gives the money to

  • Villiger says:

    mike, that is essentially what i am saying. Make a bold strategic shift from the Paq military to the civilians, with absolute control by the US/donors over where the cash goes desirably in large projects which can be show-cased to Paq public opinion.

  • Gitmo-Joe says:

    Its nice to see the $6.9 million in American taxpayer dollars we send to Pakistan EVERY DAY paying off so nicely.
    Why do we go through the ISI middlemen? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to send our money directly to the Taliban?

  • Dane says:

    they only use the US as a reason to be there, although we do breed insurgency either way, they will still come anyways because they grew stronger even america was totally blind to the taliban and afghanistan.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram