Kabul airport blasts – who are IS-K?
August 26, 2021 - The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan – known as Islamic State Khorasan or IS-K – is the most extreme and violent of all the jihadist militant groups operating in the country.
Islamic State Khorasan group – also known as IS-K – claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attacks outside Kabul airport that killed at least 90 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers, and left dozens injured.
IS-K said its suicide bombers singled out “translators and collaborators with the American army” in the attacks on Thursday evening.
IS-K was formed by disaffected fighters from Pakistani Taliban, following the creation in 2014 of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria by the so-called Islamic State group.
IS-K is said to have around 1,500-2,000 fighters in Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, with cells across Afghanistan, including Kabul.
The group is headed since Jun 2020 by Shahab al-Muhajir. The ISIS-K founding emir, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2016.
IS criticises the Taliban’s version of Islamic rule as insufficiently hard line, and denounces their deal with the U.S. over troop withdrawals.
IS-K was responsible for 77 attacks in Afghanistan in the first four months of this year – up from 21 in the same period in 2020, according to the UN. The school bombing in Kabul in May 2021, killed 80 schoolgirls.
- U.S. braces for more ISIS attacks after 85 killed in Kabul airport carnage (Reuters)
- ISIS Branch Poses Biggest Immediate Terror Threat to Evacuation in Kabul (NYT)
- Islamic State Khorasan (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
- Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Afghanistan (UN Security Council)
- Pentagon says there were two explosions at Kabul airport, with casualties (Reuters)