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Weapons Used and Captured by the Islamic State Khurasan Province After the Taliban's Takeover of Afghanistan
Islamic State Khurasan Province Insurgency in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has witnessed many wars over the years. Many different actors showed themselves in these wars from time to time. The two most important of these actors currently operating are the Taliban and the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP).
The Taliban entered Kabul on August 15th, 2021, taking power and proclaiming the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).
However, after the Taliban took power, ISKP, which had been operating in the region since 2015, increased the intensity and speed of its attacks. It carried out attacks on various targets, especially Shiite places of worship, Taliban members and Kabul Airport.
In this article, the weapons and ammunition used by ISKP in the period since the Taliban took power will be examined. Of course, it is not possible to examine all the weapons in ISKP's possession here, however, it can be an important starting point for future research.
ISKP's first attack on the IEA was carried out shortly after the Taliban seized power. In August, an ISKP militant carried out a Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) at Kabul Airport.
On August 26th, ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency published a photo of the attacker. The attacker is seen in the photo below holding a Type 3 AK-47 assault rifle.
Figure 1.1: The militant who carried out an SVBIED attack at Kabul Airport with a Type 3 AK-47 rifle.
Type 3 AK-47 weapons have been used by many groups in the region since the Soviet era. It is one of the weapons that the Taliban, ANA, ISKP and many other groups can easily find.
Immediately after this attack, ISKP launched another attack on Kabul Airport on August 30th. This time, however, the attack was not carried out with an SVBIED. On the morning of August 30th, several rockets were fired towards Kabul Airport from a vehicle in Khair Khana, Lab-e-Jar.
Figure 1.2: The vehicle in which the rocket launcher is placed.
As seen in Figure 1.2, the rockets were launched from a vehicle. Also, this launcher had 6 slots, was produced for 107mm rockets and was probably locally made.
On September 3rd, the Islamic State’s official newsletter, Al-Naba, published a photo of the militant who carried out the attack and fired the rockets.
Figure 1.3: Rockets fired at Kabul Airport and the militant who carried out the attack.
As seen in the photo, the attack was carried out with Chinese-made 107mm Type 63-2 HE type rockets. MJ-1 type fuzes are generally used in Type 63 variant rockets. However, in this photo, it is seen that the rockets have Russian M-12 (or their Chinese copy MP-4) pattern fuzes.
It is also possible to see that the attacker was holding the Bulgarian Arsenal MG-1M type "General Purpose Machine-Gun" in Figure 1.3 (note the fluted barrel). This weapon is also occasionally used by the Taliban and similar groups and can be found on the black market.
After this attack, ISKP militants carried out a series of attacks directly targeting the Taliban. One of these was an armed attack on a Taliban militant at a gas station in Jalalabad on September 22nd.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine what kind of weapon was used in the attack given the poor video quality. But the weapon used looks like a 7.62x39mm AK platform rifle.
After this attack, ISKP militants managed to seize an AKM pattern rifle from the killed Taliban member.
Figure 1.4: Seized AKM patterned rifle from Taliban in Jalalabad.
It is difficult to comment on the exact model of the seized weapon. However, it is possible that it is a Romanian PM md. 63 rifle due to the lack of swells on the handguards.
After this attack, ISKP militants continued their operations against the Taliban. Another raid was carried out by ISKP militants on a Taliban checkpoint in Sawkay, Kunar.
A photograph of weapons seized from Taliban members killed by ISKP in the Kunar raid was published in ISIS’ Al-Naba on September 30th.
Figure 1.5: Weapons seized by ISKP from the after the raid in Kunar.
When Figure 1.5 is examined, a Hungarian AMD-65 (which was probably supplied to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and later captured by the Taliban) is seen at the top and a standard AKM pattern rifle at the bottom.
But it can be said that the weapon in the middle is either an early Chinese Type 56 or a rare Albanian ASh-78 Type-1 due to the lack of magazine well dimple and slightly different barrel profile.
While Type 56 rifles are extremely common in the region, ASh 78 variants are extremely rare. However, despite its rarity, it is possible to come across this weapon in the inventory of both the Taliban and the ANA.
On October 3rd, a photo released by Amaq News Agency shows a rifle that looks very similar (or possibly even the same) as in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1.6: Martyrdom photo of “Misbah al-Kanari”, the attacker who carried out an SVBIED attack on Taliban check point in Kabul.
The person seen in Figure 1.6 conducted a suicide attack against another Taliban checkpoint. The militants who carried out the suicide attacks, seen in both Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.6, are likely to be from the same cell in Kabul. As you can see, both militants are carrying very similar Type 3 AK-47 rifles.
On October 7th, ISKP released the photo of the captured (and executed) Taliban militant in PD 2, Jalalabad via Al-Naba.
Figure 1.7: ISKP militants with the captured Taliban captitive in Jalalabad.
ISKP militants can be seen with three AKM pattern rifles in the photo. Also one of the AKM pattern rifles appears to feature a 40-round RPK-magazine as well. It can be easily said that the weapons seen here are also very common in the region.
After the attacks mentioned here, ISKP started to attack places belonging to Shiites. Also in October, an ISKP militant carried out a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in Khan Abad, Kunduz and many Hazaras were killed and injured as a result.
On October 8th, Amaq News Agency published a photo of the suicide bomber who carried out the attack.
Figure 1.8: The militant who carried out the attack. In a statement, IS stated that the person who carried out the attack was a Uighur. Read More
In this photo, the militant can be seen holding a Turkish Zigana K pattern pistol. When examined in detail, it can be seen that the gun in the hands of the militant in Figure 1.8 is not an original Zigana K, but a craft-produced copy of it.
Both originals and fakes of Zigana K pistols are used in the region by many groups, including the Taliban. In the past, the Taliban had carried out various assassinations with similar pistols.
On October 15th, ISIS again showed off the weapons captured by militants in Khurasan Province as a result of an attack on Taliban members in District-7, Jalalabad. These weapons were published in the 308th issue of Al-Naba.
Figure 1.9: Seized weapons by ISKP from Taliban in District-7, Jalalabad.
The weapons seized in the photo appear to be M16A4 assault rifles. These weapons were first supplied to the ANA and other branches of Afghan Security Forces by the USA. A large number of M16A4 rifles fell into the hands of the Taliban in different ways (ie: seized from soldiers, taken from the abandoned arsenals etc.) and many of them were offered for sale on the black market.
Before the end of October, ISKP carried out yet another attack against the Shiites. On October 15th, an Inghimasi attack was carried out on Shiites at the Bibi Fatima Mosque in Kandahar.
A day after the attack (October 16th), ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack and published a photo of the militants who carried out the attack.
Figure 1.10: The militants who carried out the attack on the Bibi Fatima Mosque.
The militant on the left is seen carrying an M16A2 or M16A4 rifle. This rifle is fitted with a 40mm M203 under-barrel grenade launcher. It also has at least two spare magazines, which contain M855 ammunition. The ammunition, grenade launcher and rifle were originally shipped to the ANA by the US.
The militant on the right is seen carrying a shortened AK platform rifle (a possible Type 56) with a spare magazine.
Both militants have explosive vests with UZRGM pattern fuzes and F-1 hand grenades. Also, F-1 & M67 grenades and Glock 17 & 19 Gen 3 pistols can be seen on the ground. Since copies of Glock pistols are very common in the region, it is possible that these pistols are also copies. Also, both pistols seem to have selector switches. In other words, both guns have the select fire feature (Semi & Full Auto).