New Delhi: ISIS-K or Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the regional affiliate of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings at Kabul airport that left more than 90 people, including children and US military personnel dead. In a message shared on its Amaq News Agency, the group claims the blasts killed and wounded some 160 and includes a photo of a man it says was a suicide bomber.Also Read - SAARC Foreign Ministers Meet Stands Cancelled as Pakistan Wanted Taliban to Represent Afghanistan: Report
The first blast was reported at the Abbey Gate in Kabul airport while the second one was near the Baron Hotel. At least 13 US soldiers were killed in the bombings, which is said to be the deadliest terror attack on US forces in the strife-torn country since 2011. 20 years ago, the United States had lost its 30 soldiers when the Taliban had shot down a Chinook transport helicopter near Kabul. Also Read - Taliban Sacks Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Hamid Shinwari, Replaces Him With Naseeb Khan
Even though the Taliban occupies Kabul and most of Afghanistan, the US military still controls the airport to enable the evacuation of American citizens and the tens of thousands of others, many of whom had worked with Washington. US and allied officials have been warning of terrorist threats and Washington had asked its citizens not to head to the airport until they were asked to go there. The latest killings brought the total number of US military personnel who died in Afghanistan since 2001 to 2,325. Also Read - Breaking: 2 Dead, Over 20 Injured in Fresh Blasts In Afghanistan's Jalalabad, Confirms Taliban Official
What is IS-Khorasan?
Based in the Khorasan province of Afghanistan, Islamic State-Khorasan or IS-K is the regional affiliate of the Islamic State or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Its aim is to establish a caliphate in Central and South Asia. The group came into existence in 2015 when the Islamic State announced its expansion to the Khorasan region, which historically surrounds parts of modern-day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Who heads IS-Khorasan?
Shahab al-Muhajir, who had worked for al-Qaeda is currentlyly heading IS-Khorasan. He was a mid-level commander in the Haqqani Network, part of the Taliban set-up, regarded as the connection between the ISI and the Taliban. If reprots are to be believed, the IS-K shared good rapport with Pakistan-based terror groups, linked to Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Earlier, IS Khorasan was headed by a Pakistani national, Hafiz Saeed Khan.
How is IS-Khorasan Related to Taliban?
They both claim to be the true flag-bearers of jihad, but they follow different notions of religion and strategy. Both IS-K and Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamist militants but their enmity has led to a bloody clash between the two, with the Taliban emerging victorious after 2019 as the IS-K failed to secure territory as its parent group did in the Middle East. As the outrage grew between the jihadist groups, IS statements started referring to the Taliban as apostates (who renounces a religious or political belief or principle).
The ISIS-K attack was a show of defiance against the Taliban. Although the extremist ISIS-K is by no means a democratic organisation, in the confounding Afghan scenario it is fighting the Taliban, they share a mutual opposition to the US, while as an insurgency within an insurgency it is questioning the Taliban’s claims of iron-fisted control of the country.