2.5. Members of insurgent groups and civilians perceived as supporting them



This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.

Last updated: December 2020

This profile refers to all insurgent groups in Afghanistan, as well as civilians perceived as supporting them. They include those who identify themselves as ‘Taliban’ as well as parties and organised armed groups, such as IMU, the Haqqani Network, Islamic Jihad Union, Lashkari Tayyiba, Jaysh Muhammed, groups identifying themselves as ´Daesh´/ISKP, and other armed groups pursuing political, ideological or economic objectives, including armed criminal groups directly engaged in hostile acts on behalf of a party to the conflict.

COI summary

a. Targeting by the State

Insurgent groups, as well as people suspected of supporting them, are reported to face the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, targeted attacks, torture, arbitrary arrests, and illegal detention. There are also reports of incidents of extrajudicial killings and killings by ANSF abusing their position of power. Conflict-related detainees are often subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Convictions by Afghan courts are often based solely on confessions extracted through torture and ill-treatment, although the use of confessions extracted this way is prohibited by the Criminal Procedure Code [State structure, 2.1., 3.6, Conflict targeting, 2.1, 2.2].

Targeting of civilians by the government happens based on family ties, kinship, and tribal association, in particular where a certain tribe is associated with insurgents’ leadership (e.g. Ishaqzai) or in retaliation for Taliban attacks. ALP and pro-government militias have mainly targeted and killed civilians because they are suspected of being related to or of helping the insurgents. Incidents in which the ANSF, in particular NDS, shot and killed or injured civilians believing them to be (related to) Anti-Government Elements are also reported [Security situation 2020, 1.2.1, 1.3.5; State structure, 2.1; Conflict targeting, 2.1, 2.2.2, 2.6].

b. Targeting by other insurgent groups

Some of the insurgent groups reportedly maintain ties and work together on certain instances. For instance, Haqqani maintains close ties with the Taliban. It is also reported to work together on certain occasions with ISKP, and to keep close contact and collaborate with Al Qaeda. However, in other occasions insurgent groups can be seen as enemies of each other, especially Taliban and members of the ISKP, whose militants in 2019 have largely been pushed out of their strongholds in parts of Nangarhar by ANSF and coalition forces, as well as by the Taliban. Many ISKP members surrendered together with their families. In addition to violent clashes with the Taliban (e.g. fighting over control), there are also some reports of specific targeting as well as executions by the Taliban of members of such groups [Anti-government elements, 2, 3; Conflict targeting, 1.2.8,, 1.5.1].

Similarly, other insurgent groups, such as the ISKP, are reported to target Taliban fighters or persons suspected of spying for them [Anti-government elements, 3; Conflict targeting, 1.5.1].

There are also reports of ISKP killing its own members due to infighting in the group [Conflict targeting, 1.5.1] and of members of AGEs being targeted because they left the group or took part in the peace process [Criminal law and customary justice, 1.8].

Risk analysis

In itself, the prosecution of the criminal acts of the insurgents (e.g. killing, planning of attacks on civilians, abductions by insurgents, etc.) and targeting in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law do not amount to persecution.

However, the acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed when the State acts beyond its legitimate powers (e.g. extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests) or when imposing the death penalty would amount to persecution due to their severe nature. Moreover, individuals under this profile could be exposed to acts by other insurgent groups that would amount to persecution (e.g. killings, executions).

For members of insurgent groups, well-founded fear of persecution by the State would in general be substantiated. In addition, for some applicants under this profile well-founded fear of persecution by other insurgent groups may be substantiated, depending on the group they belong to, their area of origin and the reach of the actor of persecution.

In the case of civilians perceived as supporting insurgent groups, not all individuals would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of origin, family ties, tribal association, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is for reasons of (imputed) political opinion.

P1239#yIS1 Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see 6. Exclusion).


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