Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN EXCLUSIVE)It is a strangely formal, yet troubling scene. A room in a far flung corner of Afghanistan where a serious lecture is happening, to an audience that seems part ideological, part curious; some are just impoverished, hoping for a quick job.
At the front of this room stands an Afghan freshly back from fighting in Syria, and intent on recruiting other Afghans to fight alongside him for ISIS.
“Brothers, I am here to tell you”, the recruiter begins, “about the mujahideen in Syria.”
All faces are hidden in the footage, yet the motivations are clear. This seems to be part of ISIS’s first moves into Afghanistan, a bid to bolster their ranks for the fight in Iraq and Syria by vacuuming up disgruntled former Taliban fighters — or even just students looking for a cause.
But it’s a troubling move nonetheless. There’s no shortage of battle-hardened militants here. And as NATO leaves, the Taliban looks strong if a little fractured — and the possibility of peace talks ahead with the Afghan government could alienate some of the group’s more radical elements.
The man is one of five recruiters, he says — some foreign, others Afghan like him, spread out across the country. His message is broadly ideological. “Jihad is now obligatory not only in Afghanistan, but also in many other places in the world,” the recruiter tells the room. “The Christians and Jews have not only attacked Afghanistan, but they have also attacked Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Palestine. So Jihad is obligatory on us in these places.”