Who is IS-K in Afghanistan and how dangerous is this terrorist group?

IS-K has carried out many bloody attacks despite suffering heavy losses due to US and coalition attacks.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (also known as ISISK,IS-K or ISKP) – a terrorist group that the US accuses of causing deadly suicide attacks outside the international airport in the capital Kabul (August 26), which rallied in eastern Afghanistan six years ago and quickly evolved into one of the increasingly dangerous global terrorist threats.

An ISIS-K propaganda photo showing its fighters. 
An ISIS-K propaganda photo showing its fighters. 

Despite being a military target of the US-led coalition for many years, this terrorist group still survives and is ready to carry out major attacks when the US and its NATO partners withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban return. take power again.

US President Joe Biden highlighted the threat posed by this terrorist group when he defended his goal of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline. The US leader blamed IS-K for attacks outside the airport in the capital Kabul that killed more than 170 people, including 13 US service members. IS-K has carried out many bloody attacks despite suffering heavy losses due to US and coalition attacks.

How was Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) formed?

According to The reports, IS-K is the official branch of the Islamic State (IS) group operating in Afghanistan, recognized by the leader of IS in Iraq and Syria.

IS-K was founded in January 2015, after IS raged across Syria and Iraq and created an empire calling itself the “caliphate” in the summer of 2014. For a while In a short time, IS-K has consolidated control of territory in several rural districts in northern and northeastern Afghanistan, and launched a bloody campaign of attacks across Afghanistan and Pakistan. Within the first 3 years, the group attacked minorities, public areas, organizations and many government targets in major cities in these two countries.

By 2018, IS-K had become one of the four most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). However, after suffering great territorial losses and losing many senior leaders to offensive operations conducted by the US and coalition forces, which culminated in the surrender of more than 1,400 fighters and their families. Afghanistan’s government in late 2019 and early 2000, the organization is said to have been defeated.

Who are the fighters of IS-K?

IS-K was founded by former members of the Pakistani Taliban, but over time, the force has recruited fighters from various militant groups.

IS-K originally consisted of hundreds of Pakistani Taliban fighters who had taken refuge across the Afghan border after military operations pushed them out of the country. The group has tolerated many other extremists, including Taliban fighters in Afghanistan who are dissatisfied with the leadership’s moderate approach. As the Taliban have pursued peace talks with the US in recent years, more and more dissidents have joined IS-K, leading to a larger number of IS-K members.

The group has also attracted a large number of members from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, extremists in a predominantly Sunni Muslim province in Iran. There are also others attracted to IS’s violent and radical ideology, including its promise to build a “caliphate” to unify the Muslim world – a goal that has yet to be achieved. never supported by the Taliban.

Enemies of the Taliban

The Taliban and IS-K are two opposing forces. The Taliban, which is considered by the intelligence community to have links to al-Qaeda, has carried out major attacks against IS-K. Many Taliban insurgents have worked with the Afghan government and the US-led coalition to drive them out of Afghanistan. A US Department of Defense official said that the Trump administration had previously sought a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban in 2020 in the hope of working with them against IS.

IS-K considers the Taliban in Afghanistan as its strategic rival. On the one hand, this terrorist group seeks to recruit members of the Taliban, on the other hand attacks their positions across the country. The Taliban thwarted IS-K efforts by organizing retaliatory attacks against IS-K forces and positions. These attacks often occur in tandem with US and Afghan ground and air operations against IS-K.

How dangerous is this group?

While the Taliban have limited their wars to within Afghanistan, IS-K has responded to the call of the self-proclaimed terrorist organization IS to launch worldwide terrorist attacks against non-Muslims. 

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, IS-K elements have carried out dozens of attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including minority Shiite Muslims, and caused hundreds of deaths. Clashes with troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US-led coalition since January 2017.

Even so, the group has yet to launch attacks on US territory. The US government considers IS-K a chronic threat to the interests of the US and its allies in South and Central Asia.

The overall strategy of ISIS-K is to establish a locomotive for the IS movement to expand the so-called “caliphate” into Central and South Asia. IS-K wants to become the leading jihadist group in the region, in part through inheriting the legacies of its predecessors.

IS-K leverages the expertise of the personnel it recruits and aligns operations with other militant groups to launch devastating attacks. These attacks targeted minorities such as the Hazara and Sikhs of Afghanistan, as well as journalists, aid workers, security personnel and government infrastructure.

IS-K’s goal is to create chaos and instability, in an attempt to draw disgruntled fighters from other groups into its ranks and cast doubt on anyone’s ability to guarantee security. government has power over the people.

IS-K’s threat to Afghanistan and the international community?

In a report for West Point’s Counterterrorism Center, experts Amira Jadoon and Andrew Mines note that, even if the US has troops, warplanes and drones in Afghanistan to monitor and destroyed IS-K, elements of this force continued to attack despite suffering great losses.

As a relatively weakened organization, IS-K’s immediate goals are to recruit more members and demonstrate resolve through terrorist attacks. IS-K currently has its eye on attacking US and allied forces abroad, but the extent to which the group is able to incite and direct direct attacks against the West remains puzzling. split the US intelligence community.

It is too early to say how a US withdrawal from Afghanistan will benefit IS-K, but the suicide bombings outside Kabul airport show the group is continuing to pose a threat. If IS-K is able to occupy some territory in the long term and recruit more fighters, it will be ready to return and become a major threat at the national, regional and international level.

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