5) The ISKP mostly consisted of disaffected and marginalized former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders and their loyalists.
Several anti-Taliban entities, mostly a coterie of disgruntled former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban commanders, including the ISKP, the Islamic Emirate High Council of Afghanistan (IEHCA), and local paramilitary groups comprised of disaffected former Taliban fighters supported by the Afghan government, currently conduct operations against Taliban field commanders and fighting elements.
The emerging ISKP factions in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar Province consisted of militants from Lashkar-e-Islam, an anti-Pakistan organization, as well as radical salafis (17) and TTP leaders from Pakistan's Orakzai and Mohmand Agencies.
Tension between the Afghan Taliban and ISKP was apparent from the onset, and violent clashes between the rivals exploded in December 2014 in Nangarhar's Naziyan and Kot districts, which lasted through the spring of 2015.
Meanwhile, the ISKP factions in Afghanistan's Helmand and Farah provinces--led by local, disgruntled Afghan Taliban leaders--failed to recruit, expand, and hold their small pockets of territory.
Although the ISKP failed in its initial effort to expand throughout Afghanistan, the group reconstituted itself in Nangarhar Province throughout 2015 and 2016, (22) distracting the Taliban from otherwise attacking Afghan government interests or coalition forces in many parts of Nangarhar.
By then, the specter of the Islamic State expansion became a top order concern for the Afghan government and coalition forces, and since mid-2015, tremendous resources have been expended trying to eliminate the ISKP from every corner in Afghanistan.
Ongoing fighting between the ISKP and Taliban continued throughout 2016 and 2017, with the former nearly overrunning the notorious Tora Bora cave complex in June 2017, an area where al-Qa'ida leader Usama bin Ladin escaped from after 9/11.
The ISKP suffered numerous blows to its leadership after its inception, however, including the loss of three of its walis.
Of the various internal divisions and fractures the Taliban faces, the ISKP remains the biggest military and ideological threats to the organization and its dominance over rural Afghanistan, so much so that the Taliban has often exaggerated claims and spread rumors that rival commanders have defected to the ISKP in hopes that Afghan and coalition forces will respond by targeting and eliminating such commanders.
48) By contrast to its ISKP and IEHCA rivals, who collectively could field a fighting force not exceeding a few thousand fighters, the Afghan Taliban most likely comprises of 35,000 to 50,000 active combatants nationwide at any given time.
a) The ISKP, since its inception, has had a presence in Farah, Helmand, Ghor, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pul, Faryab, Kunduz, Ghazni, Nangarhar, and Kunar provinces.