A twin suicide attack took place outside the Kabul airport on Thursday killing at least 13 people and leaving several injured. The United States and other western powers had warned of the threat earlier. A US official told the press that the Islamic State is likely to be behind the “complex” attack near the Kabul airport. Sometime before the suicide attack on Thursday, United States’ President Joe Biden had said that there is “an acute and growing risk of an attack at the airport by the Islamic State’s regional chapter called the Islamic State-Khorasan or ISIS-K.  

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Here, we go into what is the Islamic State-Khorasan and why it poses a threat to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

What is Islamic State-Khorasan?

Soon after the Islamic State, known as ISIS or ISIS, declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, breakaway fighters from the Pakistan Taliban joined the militants in Afghanistan to form a regional chapter. The group pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

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The Islamic State-Khorasan was formally recognised by the Islamic State leadership in 2015 after it established control over northeastern Afghanistan, especially in Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces. The group also managed to establish sleeper cells in other parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, say United Nations monitors.

How powerful is Islamic State-Khorasan?  

According to latest estimates by the UN Security Council, the strength of the Islamic State-Khorasan is less that 500.

From where does the group get its name?

The name Khorasan is a historical name for the area where the group has its base. It comprises parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia.

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What kind of attacks has it carried out?

While the group behind Thursday’s suicide attack remains to be officially confirmed, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in the region in recent years. The group has attacked mosques, shrines and public squares and even hospitals in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.