On Thursday, Aug. 26, terrorist attacks in Kabul left nearly a hundred people dead, including at least 13 Americans. The terrorist group claiming responsibility for the attacks is a faction of ISIS, known as ISIS-K, which functions as a regional affiliate of the Islamic State.
Afghanistan, already suffering from the Taliban invasion, has just suffered a new blow after terrorist threats from the ISIS group known as IS-K or ISIS-K, a reference to the historic Iranian and Central Asian region of Khorasan.
ISIS-K, which previously fought U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack that killed dozens of people, including Afghans trying to leave the country and at least a dozen U.S. servicemen.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt them down and we will make them pay,” U.S. President Biden said in remarks at the White House, vowing that the group’s actions would not stop the evacuation airlift, Reuters reported.
What is the Islamic State Khorasan?
Islamic State Khorasan was formed in late 2014 and operates as an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Forbes reported that among the founding members were militants who left both the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban after expressing dissatisfaction with leaders and former comrades.
In a 2015 video, the group’s leader, Hafiz Saeed Khan, and other senior commanders pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the leader of the Islamic State, and declared themselves stewards of a new ISIS territory in Afghanistan.
The regional affiliate became known for ruling under a strict interpretation of Islamic law, using violent enforcement tactics, such as carrying out public executions, killing tribal elders, and closing schools.
Their leader Khan was killed in 2016 during a U.S. drone strike. Then Baghdadi died in 2019 after he detonated an explosive vest during a raid by U.S. forces.
It is worth noting that the Taliban and the ISIS-K grouping consider each other as enemies. Since its founding, the Islamic State affiliate has been at odds with the Taliban, which now controls Afghanistan.
The two groupings currently have several open disputes over resources and territory, although their ideological differences are their main stumbling block.
“The hostility between the two groups arose both from ideological differences and competition for resources. IS-K accused the Taliban of drawing its legitimacy from a narrow ethnic and nationalistic base, rather than a universal Islamic creed,” said Stanford’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.
During the last few years, especially during the Trump era, the United States made great strides in negotiations with the Taliban to reach peace agreements, but many of the most radical, motivated by their hatred of the West, saw these overtures as a betrayal and decided to cross over to the ranks of ISIS.
Regarding Thursday’s attacks, a Taliban official told Reuters that the group arrested an ISIS fighter at the airport a few days ago. During interrogation, he told them about plans for attacks. In response, the Taliban said they postponed meetings in public places and advised their top leaders not to meet but failed to stop suicide attacks.