What is ISIS-K? Pentagon says terror group is targeting evacuation planes from Kabul
'ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack US and allied forces and innocent civilians,' Biden said
Afghan-based Islamic State-offshoot called ISIS-K are 'targeting' evacuation planes that are flying out of Kabul, Pentagon commanders have warned. Now, newsreaders want to know more about the ISIS-K group.
The warning comes from an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province. ISIS declared its expansion to the Khorasan region in 2015, which historically encompasses parts of modern-day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. On Tuesday, August 24, Joe Biden warned of the threat posed by ISIS-K, but Pentagon officials shared more details in a closed-door briefing to Congress, which was sent to Politico by three congressional aides and another source familiar with the intelligence.
What is ISIS-K?
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province is a self-proclaimed branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) active in South Asia and Central Asia, though ISIL dismisses any connection. Some media sources also use the terms ISK, ISISK, IS-KP, ISIS-K or Daesh-Khorasan to refer the group. The Khorasan group has been active in Afghanistan and its area of operations also includes other parts such as Pakistan, Tajikistan, and India where some people have pledged loyalty to it. ISIL declared that the group was formed in January 26, 2015 and at that time, they appointed the former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant Hafiz Saeed Khan as its leader with former Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Aliza appointed as deputy leader. In February 2015, Aliza was killed in a U.S. drone strike, while Khan died in a U.S. airstrike in July 2016. The leader of ISIL-KP, Abdullah Orokzai who is also known as Aslam Farooqi, was captured in April 2020.
In 2017, the US estimated that ISIS-K has less than 1,000 fighters, down from the mark of 2,500 in 2015. A center in eastern Afghanistan also collapsed as a result of concerted military offensives from the United States, Afghan forces and Taliban. On 25 December 2017, in a viral video of a Kashmiri militant proclaiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and declaring an ISIL Province in Kashmir, the fighter called on Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind to ally with or give allegiance to ISIL and wage Jihad in Kashmir against the Indian government but the group declined.
"Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops,' Biden said on Tuesday, August 24. "ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians." More details on their plots were not revealed but U.S. forces left packs of powerful weapons behind after withdrawing across Afghanistan, which could now be used against its own personnel. US planes landing at Kabul Airport earlier this week were also spotted doing steep 'diving combat' landings in a bid to avoid the potential attack, and were photographed dropping flares that could draw away any missiles fired at them.
It was also reported that the security situation around the airport had also worsened in recent days, given the new terror warnings, and added to Biden's decision not to declare an extension of the August 31 deadline for all U.S. troops to leave. Reports suggest that ISIS-K is targeting airport gates, which have seen thousands of people gather in a bid to flee as well as military and commercial aircraft evacuating people from the capital city, sources told Politico. They also informed that the Defense Department officials told the meeting they are trying to decrease the threats as best as possible. Gates at the airport were closed because of the security threat, the sources said.
Captain Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman, said that the threat remained high and that forces were on high alert at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA). "The U.S. has been transparent that there is an active and continuing threat from ISIS," he said. "That said, the U.S. military can continue our mission at HKIA as long as we are ordered to be there, and we are not going to shut down the mission in response to a threat from ISIS. "We continue to be extraordinarily vigilant in regard to this ongoing threat and will take all measures necessary to defend our forces and the evacuees, as we continue the mission."