What Is ISIS-K, the Islamic State Khorasan?

In 2015, ISIS announced that it was expanding into the Khorasan region.

Like other terrorist groups, ISIS-K has targeted U.S. forces, their allies and civilians. But unlike the others, ISIS-K openly fought with other extremist Islamic organizations, like the Taliban.

In fact, among those killed in the attack at the airport in Kabul this week were at least 28 Taliban fighters, Reuters reported.

ISIS-K has been antagonistic mostly toward the Taliban, and the two groups have fought for turf, particularly in eastern Afghanistan. Since 2017, experts say, ISIS-K has been responsible for roughly 250 clashes with the U.S., Afghan and Pakistani security forces.

More recently, ISIS-K leaders have denounced the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, saying that the group’s version of Islamic rule was insufficiently hard line.

In October 2019, President Trump announced the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying in a speech that he was “the founder and leader of ISIS, the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world.” Mr. Trump went on to say, “We obliterated his caliphate, 100 percent, in March of this year.”

In January 2020, days after the U.S. killed a high-ranking military commander, Qasem Soleimani, Mr. Trump again bragged about having destroyed “100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate.” He also said that Mr. al-Baghdadi “was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate and failed.”

Clearly, it was not 100 percent.

Before Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death, he had expanded the organization and given subordinates considerable latitude to act. ISIS encouraged followers to act alone or in small groups. Hassan Abu Hanieh, a Jordanian expert on extremist groups, said at the time that “getting rid of the leader does not get rid of the organization.”


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