ISIS-K: A 'new threat has arisen' for the United States

·3-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Washington DC [US], August 30 (ANI): In the light of the United States exit from Afghanistan, the incidents of the past week in Kabul has once again awakened mighty America to risks posed by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).

This wake-up call came in the wee hours of its exit from the graveyard of the empire as it ended the decades-long war. Last Thursday, a suicide bomber and multiple ISIS-K gunmen killed 13 US service members and nearly 200 Afghan civilians in the attack at the Kabul airport. Later on Sunday, at least 10 people including children were killed in the US airstrike that took place in Kabul.

The developments came after the US carried out a "self-defensive" airstrike in Kabul against a suspected ISIS-K car bomb targeting the airport in the Afghan capital.

Writing an opinion piece for The Hill, history professor Tom Mockaitis said that a "new threat has arisen." "While most Americans only became aware of it during Thursday's attack on the Kabul airport, ISIS-K has been around for several years. The group is certainly a security concern for the United States, but it poses a greater threat to the Taliban."

According to a UN monitoring report, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) remains diminished from its zenith, following successive military setbacks that began in Jowzjan in summer 2018. However, since June 2020, it has had an ambitious new leader, Shahab al-Muhajir, and it remains active and dangerous, particularly if it is able, by positioning itself as the sole pure rejectionist group in Afghanistan, to recruit disaffected Taliban and other militants to swell its ranks.

"Despite territorial, leadership, manpower and financial losses during 2020 in Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) continues to pose a threat to both the country and the wider region," the UN report said.

As per the report, ISIL-K is seeking to remain relevant and to rebuild its ranks, with a focus on recruitment and training of new supporters potentially drawn from the ranks of Taliban who reject the peace process.

ISIL-K territorial losses have affected the group's ability to recruit and generate new funding. Although the group is assessed to retain a core group of approximately 1,500 to 2,200 fighters in small areas of Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces, it has been forced to decentralize and consists primarily of cells and small groups across the country, acting in an autonomous manner while sharing the same ideology.

According to Mockaitis, the airport attack, which killed 200 people, had a dual purpose.

On one hand, ISIS-K wanted to kill Americans and humiliate the US, whose credibility has already been damaged by the precipitous collapse of the Afghan government. On the other hand, the terrorist group wanted to undermine the legitimacy of the Taliban as it tries to govern the war ravaged-country it just conquered. (ANI)

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