For months, analysts warned that the militants in Afghanistan might try to turn the US exit into a gory spectacle. On Thursday, those predictions became reality as ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack behind the Kabul airport attack.
“The blast at the airport today is showing that unfortunately, a bloody future is ahead of us,” said an official. Here’s everything about a group that initiated suicide bombing. And called it “a punishment also for all those who want to leave Afghanistan to go and live in the West.”
What is the ISIS-K?
The terrorist group Islamic State Khorasan Province has several names: ISIS-K, ISK, and ISKP. The group is an official affiliate of the Islamic State movement that is operating in Afghanistan. The group is also recognized by the Islamic State’s core leadership in Syria and Iraq. Officially founded in January 2015, the group managed to solidify territorial control. Not just some cities but over several rural districts in the northeast and north Afghanistan.
In 2018, the terrorist group launched attacks against public institutions and minority groups. Additionally, they also attacked government targets across several cities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They soon became one of the top four terrorist organizations in the world according to the Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. However, after suffering major rank, leadership, and territorial losses to the US-led Afghan military, the organization was declared defeated. After all, 1,400 of their fighters surrendered to the Afghan government.
Aims and tactics of the terrorist group
The terrorist group’s general strategy is to establish a bridge for the Islamic State movement and expanding their rule to both central and south Asia. They aim to cement themselves as the leading jihadist organization by embracing the legacy of those that came before ISIS-K. Moreover, the terrorist group’s messages and propaganda appealed to both the younger populations and veteran jihadist fighters. “ISK’s main goal right now is to stay politically relevant, disrupt efforts to stabilize the country, and also undermine the Afghan Taliban’s credibility,” said Amira Jadoon. Jadoon is an assistant professor at the US Military Academy.
They also leverage their expertise in operational alliance and personnel with other groups for carrying out several attacks. The coalition attacks were against Afghani minority populations of Sikhs and Hazara. Additionally, they also attacked aid workers, journalists, government members, and security personnel. All in all, they aim to create chaos, increase uncertainty, and bring disillusioned fighters into their ranks.
The connection between ISIS-K and the Taliban:
The Taliban is nothing but a strategic rival for the ISIS-K. The military group brands the Taliban as a group of filthy nationalists who only wish to form a government confined to the borders of Afghanistan. “The Taliban are trying to convince ISIS-K members to leave the group and rejoin the ranks of the Taliban, which might be difficult. We are all preparing for the possibility of a long war,” said an Afghan militant who wishes to be anonymous.