Mother of All Bombs Dropped on ISIS-K: Who Are ISIS-K?
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan
The US military is still fighting in Afghanistan, long after the end of the official combat mission. But the enemy we hear about is no longer just the Taliban. The recent US bombing of a tunnel complex in Nangarhar province using GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (aka ‘Mother of All Bombs’) targeted an organisation called ISIS-K.
ISIS-K stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan (Khorasan is a province in Afghanistan). A US-government designated terrorist organisation, the group comprises former Taliban from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other terms include ISIL-KP (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province) – the US military routinely refers to the organisaiton as ISIS-K
ISIS-K formed in January 2015, with Hafiz Saeed Kahn, a former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan fighter, as leader, and Abdul Rauf Aliza, formerly Afghan Taliban, as second in command. ISIL’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani released an audio statement on 26 January 2015, announcing the creation of ‘Wilayat Khorasan’ as part of the Islamic State Caliphate and Kahn’s appointment as its governor.
ISIS-K recruitment targeted disgruntled Taliban, leading to clashes with other Taliban fighters. They were successful in driving the Taliban out of several Nangarhar districts and expanded into Helmand and Farah.
In August 2015, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Afghanistan-based terrorist group, joined ISIS-K. This led to open war between IMU and the Taliban in Zabur province, with the Taliban effectively stamping them out.
Hundreds Killed and Injured in ISIS-K Terrorist Attacks
ISIS-K claims to have been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks, including:
The 18 April 2015 suicide bombing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that killed 33 and injured another 100.
The 13 May 2015 bus shooting in Karachi, Pakistan, that killed over 45 people.
The 20 June 2016 suicide bombing of Canadian embassy guards in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least 14 were killed in the attack.
The 23 July 2016 double suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed over 80 Hazara protestors and wounded almost 300 more.
The 8 August 2016 multiple suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, that claimed 94 lives and wounded more than 100.
The 16 February 2017 suicide bombing of a shrine in Sehwan, Pakistan, which killed 88 and injured 250.
Their most recent atrocity was the 8 March 2017 attack on Sardar Duad Khan Hospital in Kabul that left at least 49 dead and 63 wounded. The terrorists had disguised themselves as doctors to gain entry to the hospital.
US Strikes Reducing ISIS-K Military Capability
Deputy leader Aliza was killed by a US drone strike in February 2015. Khan died in another US strike in July 2016. ISIS-K’s current leader is unknown. Since their initial territorial gains, the group’s power has been decreasing.
According to NATO, ISIS-K’s strength in Afghanistan has fallen to between 600 and 800 fighters from 3,000 in early 2016 – 12 of the top ISIS-K commanders were killed last year.
The US Air Force’s bombing of their tunnel complex can only hasten the colapse of the organisation.
Photo: Taliban surrender arms to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, by Joe Painter, ISAF Media, 28 May 2012.