A provincial court in Afghanistan has sentenced a man to 15 years’ imprisonment for being a spokesman for the Islamic State (IS).
Abdul Qadir Wahidi, known by his jihadist nom de guerre, Abu Ibrahim Khurasani, was sentenced by a court in the central province of Ghazni this month.
A local official, who requested anonymity, told Radio Free Afghanistan this week that Wahidi was sentenced for being a spokesman for IS and participating in the kidnapping of the head of Ghazni's transport department late last year.
In a telephone interview from his prison cell, Wahidi said IS appointed him last year as its spokesman and put him in charge of their contacts inside Afghanistan.
"In recent months, Ghazni Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada repeatedly contacted me regarding the peace talks," he said. "He guaranteed my safety and told me he wanted to discuss peace talks with the Taliban with me. But when I reached Kabul, I was arrested by Afghan intelligence."
Akbarzada, however, denied knowing Wahidi. He also denied Wahidi has previously served as his adviser in Ghazni.
Khalil Hotak, a provincial lawmaker, told Radio Free Afghanistan that Wahidi has a checkered past. He said the 45-year-old had served in the Taliban regime's intelligence service but was imprisoned by Pakistani intelligence for more than two years after he fled Afghanistan following the demise of the Taliban regime in 2001.
Hotak says Wahidi was an adviser of the provincial governor before joining IS. Radio Free Afghanistan saw documents in which Akbarzada had recommended Wahidi to be appointed as Ghazni’s director of education.
In September, Wahidi contacted Radio Free Afghanistan to say he had been appointed as the spokesman for IS. A video he sent showed three purported Afghan militants, their faces covered, sitting beneath the black IS battle flag.
They claimed to represent a group called the Islamic Organization of Great Afghanistan, and one of them said they were ready to fight for IS and its "caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Wahidi, however, was not included in the IS leadership for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a spokesman for the militant group that controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq, announced the leadership council last month.
In an apparent blow to IS efforts to establish a foothold in Afghanistan, its suspected leader Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim was killed by a drone strike in the southern province of Helmand on February 9.