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Resurgence of Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K)



  Apr 05, 2024

Resurgence of Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K)



What is Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K)?

Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, is a branch of the Islamic State (IS) group that operates primarily in the Khorasan region, encompassing parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asia. It emerged in early 2015 and aims to establish a Caliphate in the region, adhering to IS's global jihadist ideology.

Why has IS-K targeted Russia and Iran?

IS-K targets Russia and Iran due to their significant roles in opposing IS forces in Syria and the broader Middle East. Russia's military interventions in Syria and Chechnya, along with Iran's support for anti-IS militias and the Syrian government, have positioned both countries as key enemies in IS-K's propaganda. The group labels Russia as a "Christian" adversary and Iran as "Rejectionist" due to Shia Islam's divergence from IS's Sunni ideology.

How did IS-K emerge?

IS-K emerged from a mix of disgruntled Taliban fighters and militants from various jihadist groups in the region, looking for a more global jihad platform. The group capitalized on the divisions within jihadist factions and attracted members by promising a strict adherence to their interpretation of Islamic rule.

What makes IS-K different from the Taliban?

While both groups initially aimed to establish Islamic rule, IS-K and the Taliban have significant ideological and operational differences. IS-K seeks to establish a global Caliphate beyond national borders, embracing a more transnational jihadist ideology, whereas the Taliban are more nationalist and tribal, focusing on Afghanistan. These differences have led to conflicts between the two groups.

How has IS-K continued to operate despite heavy losses?

Despite facing targeted bombings by the US and counter-attacks by the Taliban, IS-K has exploited the instability in Afghanistan and the broader region to rebuild and expand its operations. The group has effectively used propaganda to attract militants from Central Asia and beyond, offering them a new base in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

What are the implications of IS-K's resurgence?

IS-K's resurgence poses significant security challenges not just in its immediate region but globally. Its ability to conduct attacks across Eurasia demonstrates its reach and the potential to inspire or coordinate attacks further afield. This resurgence underlines the persistent threat posed by jihadist ideologies, even after the physical defeat of the IS Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

How can IS-K's influence be countered?

Countering IS-K's influence requires a multi-faceted approach that includes military, intelligence, and diplomatic efforts. Strengthening the stability and governance of affected regions, particularly Afghanistan, disrupting the group's financing and recruitment networks, and international cooperation are crucial steps in undermining IS-K's capabilities and appeal.
The resurgence of IS-K highlights the evolving landscape of global terrorism, where groups adapt and seek new bases to continue their campaigns, underlining the importance of sustained international efforts to address the root causes and manifestations of extremism.


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