|History and Biodata
Afghanistan’s government sees members of the Fatemiyoun Division – who have mostly joined Shia paramilitary forces in Syria due to poverty – as a threat. Afghanistan’s officials hold that Iran has created a secret army of Hazaras Shias so that they become active upon America leaving this country. One of the soldiers said that the IRGC, in the proxy war in Syria, has used them as self-sacrificing forces, and now upon returning to Afghanistan, their lives and livelihoods have become worse than before.
There were estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Afghan men who were recruited, trained and paid to defend the ally of the Islamic Republic – Bashar Assad, the Syrian President.
One of the senior officials in Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry – who is close to the government’s intelligence department and didn’t want his name to be disclosed – said that about 10,000 fighters from this Division have come back to Afghanistan, including other fighters who have been recruited from Afghanistan’s poor Shia community.
Nevertheless, everyone at home looks at them with doubt and suspicion. Afghanistan’s security officials hold that Iran is still controlling them, and this time, they are acting as a secret army to develop Tehran’s influence in continuous conflicts in Afghanistan.
Afghan fighters who have returned from Syria are threatened by different groups. They are threatened to be arrested by Afghan’s intelligence forces who see them as traitors. They might also face deadly violence by ISIS in Afghanistan, as it sees Shias as apostates and it has repeatedly announced that it would kill them.
Afghanistan’s government and many experts believe that Iran intends to mobilize these people to consolidate its influence in Afghanistan, given that the US wants to pull out its forces from Afghanistan to end the war with the Taliban.
According to a senior official of Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, Iran is already helping the Fatemiyoun forces who live in Kabul and it backs the Hazara-dominated region of Bamiyan. He says Afghanistan intelligence forces have identified an Iranian senior official who ‘administers the forces that have returned to Afghanistan’, giving them money and weapons and creating a framework for them to rapidly mobilize if necessary.
He said Abdulghani Alipour, one of the Hazara’s warlords who is called the ‘commander of the sword’, too, helps Iran in this issue. Last year, he was arrested for creating an illegal military group but was released after protests by thousands of Hazaras.