April 4, 2019 / 12:41 PM / 3 months ago

Afghan forces arrest alleged Islamic State online recruiters

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have arrested six alleged members of the Islamic State militant group and accused them of using hundreds of fake accounts on Facebook Inc and other social media to find recruits, authorities said on Thursday.

The men, arrested in the capital, Kabul, also used Twitter Inc, Instagram and Telegram for fake accounts recruiting fighters and promoting Islamic State, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.

The agency said the men had confessed, but have not yet been charged. They were among 16 arrests it said were connected to Islamic State.

The arrests come as Facebook and Twitter have been separately sucked into an information war between India and Pakistan.

The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has recruited many fighters from around the world, including Western countries.

The group, also known as Daesh, has been active in Afghanistan since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces.

In a separate operation in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the NDS arrested 10 suspects over involvement in assassinations and transporting weapons, ammunition and explosives, it said in the statement.

Islamic State emerged in Nangarhar on the porous border with Pakistan to become one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous militant groups for its bombing and complex attacks.

It is difficult to say how many Islamic State fighters are in Afghanistan because they frequently switch allegiances, but the U.S. military estimates there are about 2,000.

U.S.-backed forces proclaimed the capture of Islamic State’s last territory in Syria last month, eliminating its rule over a self-proclaimed “caliphate”, but the jihadists remain a threat from sleeper cells around the world.

Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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