Islamic State – Khorasan Province

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Islamic State – Khorasan Province
الدولة الإسلامية – ولاية خراسان
LeadersEmir:

Field commanders:

Dates of operation26 January 2015[10]–present
HeadquartersAchin District, Afghanistan (de facto, originally)
Active regionsAfghanistan
Tajikistan
Pakistan
India[11]
SizeIn Afghanistan:
1,000 (US estimate)[12]
2,500–4,000 (UN report)[13]
10,000 (Russian estimate)[14]
Part of Islamic State[15]
Allies
Opponents
Battles and warsOperation Khyber

War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)

The Islamic State – Khorasan Province (Arabic: الدولة الإسلامية­ – ولاية خراسان‎;[22][23] ISKP) is an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) active in South Asia and Central Asia. Some media sources also use the terms ISK (or IS–K), ISISK (or ISIS–K), IS–KP or Daesh–Khorasan in referring to the group. ISKP has been active in Afghanistan[24][13][25][26] and its area of operations includes Pakistan,[27] Tajikistan[28] and India[29][30] where they claimed attacks,[11] as well as Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bangladesh where individuals have pledged allegiance to it.[31] ISKP and the Taliban consider each other enemies.[32][33]

The group was created in January 2015 by disaffected Taliban in eastern Afghanistan,[32] although its membership includes individuals from various countries notably Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.[34] Its initial leaders, Hafiz Saeed Khan and Abdul Rauf Aliza, were killed by US forces in July 2016[35] and February 2015,[36] respectively. Subsequent leaders have also been killed; its leader Abdullah Orokzai was captured in April 2020 by Afghanistan's intelligence service.[8][37]

ISKP has conducted numerous high-profile attacks against civilians mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[11] In July 2018, ISKP bombings killed 149 in Mastung, Pakistan. In May 2021, an ISKP bombing killed 90 in Kabul. In August 2021, ISKP killed 13 American military personnel and at least 169 Afghans during the U.S. evacuation of Kabul, which marked the highest number of U.S. military deaths in an attack in Afghanistan since 2011.[38][39][40]

Background[edit]

Around September 2014, IS sent representatives to Pakistan to meet with local militants including some Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions, following months of discussions.[41] At the same time, leaflets, flags and propaganda materials in support of IS began being distributed in parts of Pakistan, including a pamphlet written in Pashto and Dari that called on all Muslims to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The leaflets were believed to have been produced and distributed from across the border in Afghanistan.[42] In October 2014, former Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Khadim visited Iraq. Later on he returned to Afghanistan where he recruited followers in Helmand and Farah provinces.[43] In the same month, 6 TTP commanders; Hafiz Khan Saeed, official spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, and the TTP commanders of Kurram and Khyber tribal regions and Peshawar and Hangu Districts, publicly defected from the TTP and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[44][45]

On 10 January 2015, these six individuals appeared in a video where they again pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi and nominated Hafiz Saeed Khan as the leader of their group. They were joined by other mid-level militant commanders including representatives from Afghanistan's Logar and Kunar Province and Pakistan's Lakki Marwat. Shahidullah Shahid claimed that other jihadists from both countries supported the pledge of allegiance but had been unable to attend the meeting in person.[45][46] The newly formed group was later joined by the members of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other Central Asian militants.[47]

Since 2017, ISIS-K has been responsible for about 250 clashes with U.S. troops and Afghan and Pakistani security forces.[48]

Goal[edit]

As a "Province" of the core Islamic State, the group aims to take control of Central Asia and South Asia under the Khorasan Province banner of the self-declared caliphate. A map published by IS propaganda shows the Khorasan area stretching from Kazakhstan in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south, and from eastern Iran in the west to western China in the east.[49]

History[edit]

The group's original base and stronghold, Achin in eastern Afghanistan

On 26 January 2015, IS's official spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani released an audio statement in which he accepted the earlier pledge of allegiance and announced the expansion of ISIL's caliphate with the creation of Wilayat Khorasan (Khurasan Province), a historical region incorporating parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hafiz Khan Saeed was appointed as its local leader or Wāli (Governor).[50][51] Abdul Rauf was named as Khan's deputy and was killed by a US drone strike in Afghanistan some weeks later.[52]

IS fighters in Afghanistan with their commander Abu Rashid in the middle during a documentary by Al Jazeera and Euronews inside their territory.

IS began actively recruiting defectors from the Taliban in particular among those who were disgruntled with their leaders or lack of battlefield success. This prompted senior Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour to write a letter addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, asking for the recruitment in Afghanistan to stop and arguing that the war in Afghanistan should be under the Taliban leadership.[53] Nevertheless, fighting between the two groups broke out in Nangarhar Province and by June 2015 IS had been able to seize territory in Afghanistan for the first time.[54] After driving the Taliban out of certain districts of Nangarhar after months of clashes, the group started carrying out its first attacks against Afghan forces in the province.[55] Khorasan Province also developed a presence in other provinces including Helmand and Farah.[56] In 2015, IS began broadcasting Pashto language radio in Nangarhar Province,[57] later on adding content in Dari.[58]

The group was boosted in August 2015 when the Afghanistan-based militant group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), pledged allegiance to IS and declared that it was a member of Wilayah Khorasan.[59] Clashes broke out between IMU and the Taliban in Zabul province following this pledge. The Taliban launched an offensive causing casualties.[60][61] The Taliban succeeded in dislodging IS from Farah province over the same period.[20]

In 2016, the group lost control of the majority of its territory in Nangarhar province. It was driven out of Achin and Shinwar Districts following a military operation by Afghan Security Forces[62] while clashes with the Taliban led to it being driven out of Batikot and Chaparhar districts.[20] Following the loosening of targeting restrictions by US Forces in Afghanistan earlier in the year, the US Air Force began conducting scores of air strikes against IS targets.[63] In April 2016, the Taliban reported that a number of senior and mid-level leaders of Wilayah Khorasan in Nangarhar Province had defected from IS and pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour. The defectors included members of the group's central council, judicial council and prisoners council as well as certain field commanders and fighters.[64]

IS fighters who have surrendered after the Battle of Darzab in April 2018

In 2017, United States estimated that ISIS–K had less than 1,000 fighters, down from the mark of 2,500 in 2015.[12] A stronghold in eastern Afghanistan also collapsed as a result of concerted military offensives from United States, Afghan forces and Taliban.[65] On 25 December 2017, in a video of a Kashmiri militant declaring allegiance to the Islamic State and declaring an ISKP Province in Kashmir, the fighter called on Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind to ally with or give allegiance to IS and wage jihad in Kashmir against the Indian government but the group declined.[66]

On 24 January 2018, militants launched a bomb and gun attack on a Save the Children office in Jalalabad, killing six people and injuring 27. ISKP claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting Western institutions. In the aftermath of the attack, Save the Children suspended its operations in Afghanistan.[67]

On 15 May 2019, ISIS declared new 'Pakistan Province' and 'India Province' branches after claiming attacks in Balochistan and Kashmir respectively. This suggests that while the Khorasan Province still exists, its self-proclaimed geographical area may be reduced.[68]

On 17 August 2019, a suicide bombing took place during a wedding in a wedding hall in Kabul. At least 92 people were killed in the attack and over 140 injured.[69] ISKP claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that the attack targeted the Shi'ites.[70]

On 4 April 2020, the National Directorate of Security announced the arrest of the head of IS Aslam Farooqi by the Afghan military forces who took him into custody along with 20 other commanders.[71]

Protest in Tehran following the 2020 Kabul University attack

On 12 May 2020, a hospital's maternity ward in Kabul and a funeral in Kuz Kunar were attacked, resulting in the deaths of 56 people and injuries of 148 others, including newborn babies, mothers, nurses, and mourners.[72][73] The U.S. government said that ISKP conducted the May 2020 Afghanistan attacks, not the Taliban, but this assertion was rejected by Afghan government.[74]

By May 2020 IS-KP territorial control in Afghanistan was reportedly limited to parts of Chawkay District in Kunar province, specifically Chalas village, Dewaygal Valley and Shuraz Valley.[75]

On 26 July 2020, a United Nations report stated that even though the IS branch in Afghanistan had undergone further severe reverses in its former Afghan strongholds of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, it was too soon to discount it as a threat and although in territorial retreat, IS in Afghanistan remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul, it added.[76]

On 24 October 2020, a suicide bombing killed at least 30 people and another 70 were injured outside an educational center in Kabul.[77] The ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack.[78]

On 2 November 2020, more than 32 people were killed and 50 others injured in an attack on Kabul University.[79] The ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack.[80]

In March 2021, three female media workers were shot dead in Jalalabad. The ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack.[81]

Gathering outside Afghan embassy in Tehran to condemn the 2021 Kabul school bombing

On 8 May 2021, a car bombing, followed by two more improvised explosive device (IED) blasts, occurred in front of Sayed al-Shuhada school in Dashte Barchi, a predominantly Shia neighborhood of western Kabul, leaving at least 90 people dead and 240 injured.[82][83] The majority of the casualties were girls between 11 and 15 years old.[84] The attack took place in a neighborhood that has frequently been attacked by militants belonging to the regional ISKP over the years.[85] Taliban spokesman condemned the attack and held ISKP responsible for the attack.[85][83]

On 15 May 2021, a bomb exploded inside a Kabul mosque as worshippers gathered for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, killing at least 12 people and injuring another 15.[86] The ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack.[87]

On 26 August 2021, an ISKP suicide bomber attacked Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, killing over 170 people, including 28 Taliban members and 13 US military personnel.[88] Amidst the Taliban advance on Kabul in preceding weeks, hundreds to thousands of ISKP prisoners had been released or otherwise escaped from detention, leading to U.S. fears of attacks on the airport and future targets.[89][90][91] After the attack, the Taliban announced that they would curtail the operations of ISIS-K and capture its leader Shahab al-Muhajir.[92]

Claimed and alleged attacks[edit]

List
Date Attack Location Notes Dead Injured
18 April 2015 2015 Jalalabad suicide bombing Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated outside a bank in Jalalabad. 33 100
13 May 2015 2015 Karachi bus shooting Karachi, Pakistan A group of 8 gunmen attacked a bus in Karachi. Claim disputed. 45+ Dozens
13 January 2016 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Three attackers belonging to ISIS launched an attack on Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan. The attack resulted in death of seven members of Afghan security forces.[93] 7 0
20 June 2016 Kabul attack on Canadian Embassy guards Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Canadian embassy security guards. Both IS and the Taliban claimed responsibility. 15+ or 16 (+1) 9
23 July 2016 July 2016 Kabul bombing Kabul, Afghanistan Two suicide bombers blew themselves up during a protest by the Hazara ethnic minority, in Kabul's deadliest attack since 2001 80+ 260
8 August 2016 August 2016 Quetta attacks Quetta, Pakistan Multiple attackers carried out a suicide bombing and shooting at a government hospital where lawyers were gathered. (Also claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar)[94] 94 130+
24 October 2016 Charsadda, Pakistan An intelligence officer was shot dead. The attack was later claimed by IS in a statement posted on Amaq.[95] 1 0
24 October 2016 October 2016 Quetta attacks Quetta, Pakistan Three armed individuals carried out mass shooting at police cadets at the Quetta Police Training College while they were asleep. One attacker killed during operation while other two blew themselves up, killing 61 cadets. (Also claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi)[96][97][98] 61 160+
26 October 2016 Ghor Province, Afghanistan Fighters killed at least 30 civilians after abducting them in the Afghan province of Ghor.[99] 30 0
26 October 2016 Jalalabad, Afghanistan An IS suicide bomber killed a number of Afghan tribal elders.[100] 4–15 25
4 November 2016 Ghor Province, Afghanistan IS executed 31 civilians in Ghor Province.[101] 31 0
5 November 2016 Ghor Province, Afghanistan IS abducted at least 6 civilians in Ghor province.[101] 0 6 kidnapped
12 November 2016 2016 Khuzdar bombing Khuzdar, Pakistan At least 55 people including women and children were killed when a suicide bomber went off in the crowded Shah Noorani Shrine in Hub town, Lasbela District, Balochistan, Pakistan.[102] 55 (+1) 102+
16 November 2016 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber blew himself up in a convoy with members of the Afghan National Security Forces, near the Defence ministry.[103] 6 (+1) 15
21 November 2016 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bombing at a Kabul Shia mosque "Baqir-ul-Olum."[104] 30 (+1) 15
25 November 2016 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Multiple bombs exploded in Jalalabad city.[105] 6 27
10 December 2016 Peshawar, Pakistan IS has claimed responsibility for killing a counterterrorism police officer and wounding his son in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.[106] 1 1
7 February 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide blast at Afghanistan's Supreme Court in Kabul.[107] IS claimed responsibility.[108] 22 41
8 February 2017 Qush Tepa District, Afghanistan IS killed six local employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Qush Tepa district in Afghanistan. The assailants also took another two workers with them.[108] 6 2 kidnapped
16 February 2017 2017 Sehwan suicide bombing Sehwan, Pakistan A suicide bombing at a shrine in southern Pakistan.[109] 88 250
8 March 2017 March 2017 Kabul attack Kabul, Afghanistan A group of gunmen dressed in white hospital robes attacked the Sardar Daud Khan Hospital.[110] 49 63
12 April 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber attacked near government offices in Kabul. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[111] 5 (+1) 10
3 May 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide car bomber detonated next to a convoy of NATO vehicles near the U.S. embassy in Kabul.[citation needed] 8 (+1) 28
17 May 2017 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Four civilians and two police officers were killed when IS militants stormed a TV station in Jalalabad. Two militants blew themselves up and the other two have taken hostages. They were later killed by the police.[112] 6 (+4) 17
1 June 2017 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A car bomb went off outside the airport in Jalalabad.[113] 1 5
30 June 2017 Achin District, Afghanistan Seven civilians were killed and five others wounded when a bomb planted by IS militants blew up in the Achin district of Nangarhar province.[114] 7 5
25 July 2017 Sar-e Pol city, Afghanistan Militants affiliated with IS beheaded a man allegedly over sorcery in the capital of the northern province of Sar-e-Pol.[115] 1 0
31 July 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan IS militants committed an attack on the Iraqi Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. One terrorist blew himself up and another three entered the embassy. Two Afghan guards were killed and three others injured in the attack.[116] 2 (+4) 3
1 August 2017 2017 Herat mosque attack Herat, Afghanistan Two suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque in Herat. One of the bombers shot at worshipers with a rifle before detonating himself. 33 (+2) 66
30 August 2017 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of the house of an Afghan MP in Jalalabad. The explosion killed two guards and injured another one. A second attacker was killed before he could detonate himself.[117] 2 (+2) 1
20 October 2017 Du Layna District, Afghanistan A suicide bombing in a Sunni mosque of Ghor Province. The main target of the attack was a local commander from the anti-Taliban Jamiat party.[118][119] 33 (+1) 10
20 October 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber attacked inside a Shia mosque in Kabul.[120] 56 (+1) 55
31 October 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan An IS suicide bomber blew himself up in Kabul.[citation needed] 14 (+1) 13
7 November 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A TV building was attacked in downtown Kabul by three militants. An employee and a security guard were killed. At least one militant blew himself up while the others were killed during a gunfight with security forces. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[121] 2 (+3) 20
16 November 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan At least 19 people including eight police officers and ten civilians were killed in a bomb explosion outside a restaurant in Kabul.[122][123][124] 19 10
18 December 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan Gunmen attacked a training center of the National Directorate of Security in Kabul, injuring two policemen. All three attackers were gunned downed.[125] 0 (+3) 2
25 December 2017 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomb attack near the compound of Afghanistan's intelligence agency in Kabul.[126] 10 (+1) 5
28 December 2017 December 2017 Kabul suicide bombing Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber stormed a Shi‘ite cultural center and news agency in the Afghan capital, killing and wounding some including a number of students attending a conference. Two other bombs were detonated in the zone.[127][128] 50 (+1) 80
4 January 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bombing targeted a mobile police checkpoint in Kabul.[129] 20 30
7 January 2018 Kunar Province, Afghanistan Insurgents stormed a security checkpoint in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province.[130] 3 8
24 January 2018 2018 Save the Children Jalalabad attack Jalalabad, Afghanistan A complex attack began with a suicide car bomb outside the Save The Children offices in the city of Jalalabad followed by gunmen entering the compound and fighting Afghan special forces.[131][132] 6 27
29 January 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan 11 Afghan soldiers were killed and 16 others were injured when five IS militants attacked an army post in Kabul. Four attackers were later killed by the security forces and another was arrested.[133] 11 (+4) 16
24 February 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide blast in the Shash Darak area of Kabul.[134][135] 3 (+1) 6
7 March 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber killed three people including the local head of the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs.[136][137] 3 (+1) 16
9 March 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber set off explosives in a crowd of Shiite Muslims near a mosque complex in Kabul.[138] 10 (+1) 22
19 March 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A motorcycle bombing in Jalalabad in the Afghan province of Nangarhar.[139] 4 11
21 March 2018 March 2018 Kabul suicide bombing Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bombing near a Shiite shrine in Kabul occurred as Afghans celebrated the Persian New Year.[140][141] 33 (+1) 65
25 March 2018 Herat, Afghanistan Two suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in Herat, killing three including the two bombers.[142][143] 1 (+2) 9
30 March 2018 Watapur District, Afghanistan A member of the provincial council of Kunar and a religious scholar were killed in a suicide bombing in the Watapur district of Kunar province. A security guard was also wounded in the attack.[144][145] 2 (+1) 1
17 April 2018 Darzab District, Afghanistan IS fighters beheaded a 12-year-old boy in Darzab district in the northern Afghan province of Jowzjan.[146] 1 0
22 April 2018 22 April 2018 Kabul suicide bombing Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomb attack at a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul. The casualties were all civilians most of whom had been waiting outside the office to apply for their IDs in order to register to vote in the upcoming elections.[147][148][149] 69 (+1) 120
22 April 2018 Chaparhar District, Afghanistan Three brothers were beheaded by IS militants in Chaparhar district in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.[150] 3 0
29 April 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan At least seven people including children and policemen were injured in a bomb attack near a voter registration center in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.[151][152] 0 7
30 April 2018 30 April 2018 Kabul suicide bombings Kabul, Afghanistan Two suicide bombings in the Afghan capital Kabul.[153][154] 29 (+2) 50
4 June 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives targeting a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics in Kabul. Afterwards, a magnetic bomb attached to a police car exploded and as a result three people were wounded. 14(+1) 22
11 June 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at an Afghan ministry in Kabul. 17(+1) 40
16 June 2018 Rodat District, Afghanistan A suicide bomber attacked at a gathering of Taliban and Afghan armed forces in the Rodat district of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. 36(+1) 65
17 June 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the governor's compound in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad. 25(+1) 50
30 June 2018 Khogyani District, Afghanistan IS militants beheaded at least three people working as attendants for a local school in the Khogyani district of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The school building was also set on fire. 3 0
1 July 2018 July 2018 Jalalabad Suicide Bombing Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the center of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least 20 people including several members of the Sikh minority. 20(+1) 20
5 July 2018 Khogyani District, Afghanistan Three Taliban militants including one commander were killed and four civilians injured in a bomb blast in the Khogyani district of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. 0 (+3) 4
9 July 2018 Chaparhar District, Afghanistan At least nine civilians including two children were injured in a bomb explosion in the Chaparhar district of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. 0 9
9 July 2018 Khogyani District, Afghanistan A Taliban insurgent and a civilian were killed in the Khogyani district of the Afghan province of Nangarhar. 1(+1) 0
10 July 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a petrol pump, killing two officials working for Afghanistan's intelligence agency and 10 civilians including children and sparking a fire that burned eight cars in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Five other people were taken to hospital. 12 (+1) 5
11 July 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A militant attack on the building of the provincial education department in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. One suicide bomber detonated his explosives while two more were shot dead by the security forces in a gunfight lasting several hours. 12(+3) 9
13 July 2018 13 July 2018 Pakistan bombings Mastung, Pakistan At least 131 people were killed[155] and more than 300 others injured in a suicide bombing at election rally.[156] 131 300+
15 July 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber blew himself up near a government ministry in Kabul. 8(+1) 17
17 July 2018 Sayyad District, Afghanistan 27 including some Taliban militants were killed in a suicide bombing that targeted a funeral for a deceased person in the Sayyad district of the northern Afghan province of Sar-e Pol. 27 (+1) 23
20 July 2018 Bagrami District, Afghanistan A child was injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up before reaching his target in the Bagrami district of Kabul province, Afghanistan. 0(+1) 1
22 July 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan At least 23 people including an AFP driver were killed in a suicide bombing near Kabul International Airport as scores of people were leaving the airport after welcoming home Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum from exile. 23 (+1) 107
22 July 2018 Surkh-Rōd District, Afghanistan A gunman opened fire in a mosque in the Surkh-Rōd district in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, killing four people and injuring three others, including the mosque's religious leader. 4 3
25 July 2018 2018 Quetta Suicide Bombing Quetta, Pakistan At least 31 people including five policemen and two children were killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polling station in the Pakistani city of Quetta. 31 (+1) 40
28 July 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Two security guards and a driver were killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives and another attacker stormed into a training center for midwives in Jalalabad, the capital of the Afghan province of Nangarhar. The second attacker was shot in an hour-long battle with the security forces. 3(+2) 8
30 July 2018 Rodat District, Afghanistan A local tribal elder and three of his family members were killed in a suicide car bomb attack in the Rodat district of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The son of the tribal leader also underwent some injuries in the attack. 4(+1) 1
31 July 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber blew up a car near the entrance to the Department of Refugees and Returnees in the Afghan city of Jalalabad and then two armed men stormed the building. The attackers took several hostages during the attack. Security killed both gunmen after about six hours. 14(+3) 26
3 August 2018 Gardez, Afghanistan Two militants dressed in burqa entered a Shiite mosque in the town of Gardez in the province of Paktia and opened fire. Both attackers later blew themselves up. 48(+2) 70
5 August 2018 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Three officers of the Afghan National Army were killed and three others injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of an army checkpoint in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. 3(+1) 3
15 August 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bombing in an educative academy of Kabul. 48 67
5 September 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan Suicide blasts targeted a Kabul Wrestling club and emergency teams, two journalists were among the dead, IS claimed responsibility for the bombing.[157][158][159][160] 26(+2) 91
9 September 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up near a group of people commemorating the death anniversary of a resistance leader in Kabul on Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring an additional 25, officials said, IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[161][162] 7(+1) 25
26 September 2018 Kalat, Pakistan Two Pakistani soldiers were killed in the Kalat area of Manghochar Balochistan when they clashed with IS militants in a compound, all 3 IS militants were killed.[163] 2 (+3) 6
2 October 2018 Kama District, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated at an election rally in the Kama district of the Nangarhar Province, IS claimed responsibility through Amaq.[164][165] 14 (+1) 40
4 October 2018 Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan A bomb blast at an office of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[166] 2 9
10 October 2018 Momand Dara District. Afghanistan Three civilians were publicly executed by IS in a desert court in the Momand Dara District of Nangarhar Province.[167] 3 0
29 October 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber targeting an Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul detonated, IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[168][169] 2 (+1) 7
31 October 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber targeting a bus carrying employees of Afghanistan's biggest prison in Kabul detonated, IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[170][171] 7 (+1) 5
12 November 2018 Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near Pashtunistan Square, in Kabul city center among a crowd of Hazaras who were protesting violence against them, IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[172][173] 6 (+1) 20
23 November 2018 2018 Orakzai bombing Kalaya, Pakistan A suicide bomber detonated in a market in the Shi'ite dominated region of Kalaya, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northern Pakistan, IS claimed responsibility.[174][175][176][177][178][179] 34 (+1) 56
23 November 2018 Khost Province, Afghanistan A suicide bombing left 27 Afghan National Army personnel dead in a mosque at an army base in the Khost Province, Afghanistan, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.[180][181][182][183] 27 (+1) 57
15 January 2019 Kabul, Afghanistan A car driver was killed in Kabul's PD9 when a magnetic bomb exploded while attached to the car. IS claimed responsibility and said that the person killed was an Afghan intelligence officer.[184][185] 1 0
5 February 2019 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A policeman was shot and killed by multiple gunmen in a targeted killing in the city of Jalalabad. The gunmen took the man's weapon away and IS took responsibility for the attack.[186][187] 1 0
13 February 2019 Alingar District, Afghanistan Two Taliban members were killed in an attack by ISIS Khurasan members in Laghman's Alingar District.[188] 2 0
6 March 2019 Jalalabad, Afghanistan A suicide bomber attacked a building company near the Jalalabad Airport, later four gunmen attacked the area. All five attackers were killed in the attack. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[189][190] 16 (+5) 10
7 March 2019 Kabul, Afghanistan Shelling at a gathering commemorating the death anniversary of Shia leader Abdul Ali Mazari. IS has claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the attackers was arrested.[191][192] 3 22
12 April 2019 2019 Quetta bombing Quetta, Pakistan A suicide blast took place in a potato stall in Shia dominated Hazarganji vegetable market.[193] 22 48+
20 April 2019 Kabul, Afghanistan An explosion followed by gunfire targeted the Afghan Ministry of Information, killing 10 (7 civilians, 3 security personnel). The four attackers were all eventually killed.[194] 10 5
17 August 2019 17 August 2019 Kabul bombing Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide blast took place in the men's reception area of a wedding hall in Kabul, in a Shia neighbourhood, packed with people celebrating a marriage.[195] 80 160+
6 November 2019 Rudaki, Tajikistan Around 20 ISIS militants from Afghanistan conducted an attack on a border post in Tajikistan after crossing into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. The attack resulted in death of a Tajik border guard and a police officer. In the ensuing firefight 15 ISIS militants were killed and five were arrested.[196][197] 17 (incl. 15 militants)
6 March 2020 6 March 2020 Kabul shooting Kabul, Afghanistan Two gunmen fired from a building that was under construction.[198][199] It happened during a ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the murder by the Taliban of Afghan Shia leader Abdul Ali Mazari.[198] The ceremony was attended by Afghan politician Abdullah Abdullah who escaped unharmed.[198] The two gunmen were killed later the same day.[198] IS claimed responsibility for the attack.[198][200][201] 32 81
25 March 2020 Kabul gurdwara attack Kabul, Afghanistan A suicide blast and an armed assault took place at a Sikh shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan. During the attack there were 200 worshippers inside the shrine, among them also Indian citizens. Attackers hold hostages inside which caused a 6 hours lasting shootout. The attack resulted in 25 Sikh whorkshippers killed. After the attack, Afghan and NATO soldiers helped with the clearance operation.[202] 25 8+
12 May 2020 May 2020 Afghanistan attacks Kuz Kunar District, Nangarhar, Afghanistan A suicide bombing took place in Kuz Kunar District, Nangarhar Province at the funeral of Shaikh Akram, a police commander who died of a heart attack a day before.[203][204][205][206] 32 133+
12 May 2020 May 2020 Afghanistan attacks Kabul, Afghanistan 16 mothers and eight children and babies are killed after Islamic State militants targeted the maternity unit of a hospital in the predominately Shi'ite Hazara neighborhood of Dashte Barchi Kabul, moving through the 55-bed maternity unit. The three gunmen were later killed during a battle with security forces. The mothers were specifically the main target of the attack according to authorities.[207] 24 (+3) 16
3 August 2020 Jalalabad prison attack Jalalabad, Nangarhar, Afghanistan An attack was launched by ISKP-affiliated gunmen in Jalalabad prison, in which 200 ISKP-affiliated prisoners managed to escape. Three gunmen also died.[208] 29 (+3) 50+
25 October 2020 Kabul, Afghanistan An Islamic State suicide bomber struck near an education centre in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday.[209] 18 (+3) 57
10 December 2020 Jalalabad, Afghanistan TV and radio presenter Malalai Maiwand and her driver were killed in a shooting attack on their vehicle in the regional capital Jalalabad. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.[210] 2 0
2 January 2021 Machh, Pakistan 11 Hazara coal miners are kidnapped near their mine and then killed by Islamic State militants in Machh, Pakistan.[211] 11 0
2 March 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Three female media workers are shot dead in Jalalabad.[212] 3 1
8 May 2021 2021 Kabul school bombing Kabul, Afghanistan A car bombing followed by two more improvised explosive device (IED) blasts occurred in front of Sayed al-Shuhada school in Dashte Barchi, a predominantly Shia Hazara area in western Kabul, Afghanistan. The majority of the casualties were girls between 11 and 15 years old. The attack took place in a neighborhood that has been attacked by militants belonging to IS over the years. The Taliban blamed the attack on IS–KP.[213] 90 220
10 May 2021 Pul-e-Matak, Afghanistan A bus was hit by an IED, leaving 2 civilians dead. IS–K claimed the attack, stating that the Shia's on the bus were the target.[214] 2 9
13 May 2021 Sardawra, Afghanistan Two civilians including a child were killed after a remote-controlled explosive was detonated. IS–K later claimed responsibility.[214] 2 14
14 May 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan 12 people were killed including an Imam whilst worshipping in a mosque when an IED exploded within the mosque. ISIS later claimed responsibility.[215][216] 12 15
2 June 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan Two bombs were detonated targeting two different buses in Kabul. Both buses were transporting passengers of the Hazara ethnic group. ISIS later claimed the attack via Telegram.[217] 10 12
8 June 2021 Baghlan, Afghanistan ISIS–K claimed responsibility for attacking de-mining workers in Baghlan Province (north of the Afghan capital Kabul), 10 de-miners were shot dead.[218] 10 16
12 June 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan ISIS–K claimed responsibility for planting sticky bombs onto two vans carrying Shi'ites in a part of Kabul, creating two car bombs.[219] 7 4+
20 July 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan ISIS–K took responsibility for three rocket attacks which landed outside Afghan government presidential palace. Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani and other government and security officials were taking part in prayer at the time of the attack. No casualties were reported in the attack.[220] 0 0
27 July 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for the assassination of a NDS operative.[221] 1 0
28 July 2021 Kunduz, Afghanistan ISKP operatives abducted an Afghan police officer and released a video of them executing him with a pistol in the Kunduz area.[221] 1 0
29 July 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for assassinating an employee of the Pakistani embassy in Jalalabad.[222] 1 0
1 August 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for the assassination of a rival Taliban operative in Jalalabad.[221] 1 0
2 August 2021 Herat, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device targeting a bus full of Shias in the city of Herat.[223][224] 3 10
9 August 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for assassinating a former officer of the Afghan army in Jalalabad.[225] 1 0
26 August 2021 2021 Kabul airport attack Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan An ISKP suicide bomber blew himself up at the Kabul airport, killing 162 Afghan civilians and 13 US military personnel. The killed Americans were identified as 10 US Marines, two soldiers and one US Navy Medic. Three of the killed Afghans were British citizens. More than 200 other people were wounded, including a number of Taliban members and 18 Americans.[226] 182 200+
18 September 2021 Jalalabad and Kabul A series of bomb attacks in Jalalabad and Kabul city killed 7 people, including 2 taliban fighters, and injured 30 others. ISIS took responsibility for the series of bomb attacks and claimed that it killed or wounded more than 35 Taliban fighters in those bomb attacks.[227][228] 7 30
22 September 2021 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Two Taliban fighters and a civilian were killed in a attack by gunmen affiliated with Islamic State on security checkpoint in Jalalabad City, according to eyewitness and security officials. [229] 3 0
3 October 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan An explosion at the entrance to the Eidgah Mosque in Kabul left at least five people dead, where a memorial service was held for the mother of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. ISKP later claimed responsibility, saying it targeted and killed several Taliban operatives.[230] 5 7
6 October 2021 Khost, Afghanistan ISKP claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on a religious school in the city of Khost, killing at least 7 people including at least one Taliban fighter.[231][232] 7 15+
8 October 2021 2021 Kunduz mosque bombing Kunduz, Afghanistan On October 8, an Uyghur Islamic State militant, by the name of Muhammad al-Uyghuri killed 55-100 people and injured dozens more after launching a suicide bombing on a Shi'ite mosque in the city of Kunduz.[233][234][235][236] 55 100+
15 October 2021 2021 Kandahar bombing Kandahar, Afghanistan A suicide bombing occurred at the Imam Bargah mosque, a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, killing at least 65 people and wounding more than 70 others. The Islamic State – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack via their Amaq News Agency 65 70+

Operations by opponents[edit]

2017 Nangarhar airstrike

On 13 April 2017, a GBU43/B MOAB was dropped in an airstrike on a cave complex in Achin District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. It was the first use of the bomb on the battlefield.[237][238][239] The Afghan defence ministry reported it to have killed over 36 militants and destroyed the tunnel complex including a cache of weapons. No civilian casualties were reported.[240]

On 14 April 2017, Pakistan's security agencies along with the local police raided a house in Lahore's Factory Area as part of their combing operation which was approved by Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in the aftermath of Mall Road bombing.[241] After an exchange of fire which killed one "terrorist", three other suspects were arrested, one of them being Noreen Leghari, a student from Hyderabad, Pakistan who was claimed to be missing by her family 4 days prior to the raid.[242] On a confessional statement released by ISPR, Noreen confessed to joining IS through a terrorist she met on social media, She also told authorities that she was recruited by IS to attack a church in Lahore on the Easter Sunday, two suicide jackets, four hand grenades and bullets were provided to them.[243] On 4 September 2019, in a joint operation of Counter Terrorism Department, FIA and Balochistan Constabulary at least 6 ISIS militants were killed in an intelligence-based operation in Quetta's Eastern Bypass area. During the operation, one official of the Balochistan Constabulary was killed and eight others from the Counter Terrorism Department were injured.[244]

Mohmand Valley Raid

On 26 April 2017, a joint raid operation committed by U.S. Army Rangers and Afghan Special Forces in the Nangarhar Province resulted in the death of Sheikh Abdul Hasib, the leader of IS in Afghanistan. Along with Hasib, a number of other commanders of IS were killed according to a statement by the U.S. Military. Two U.S. soldiers died during the operation, possibly due to friendly fire.[245] On 1 January 2019, Afghan Special Forces attacked ISIS–K in Nangarhar Province's Achin District, killing 27 militants according to officials. Two local ISIS leaders, Sediq Yar and Syed Omar, were reported to be among those killed.[246] On 10 January, senior ISIS–K commander Khetab Emir was also killed in a raid in Nangarhar according to a U.S. forces spokesman. Emir was reported to have facilitated major attacks and provided ISIS–K bombmakers with explosive materials.[247] On 30 April 2019, Afghan government forces undertook clearing operations directed against both ISIS–K and the Taliban in eastern Nangarhar Province after the two groups fought for over a week over a group of villages in an area of illegal talc mining. The National Directorate of Security claimed 22 ISIS–K fighters were killed and two weapons caches destroyed while the Taliban claimed US-backed Afghan forces killed seven civilians; a provincial official said over 9,000 families had been displaced by the fighting.[248] On 21 August 2019, an airstrike killed six militants of IS in Nangarhar province including two Pakistani nationals.[249]

Taliban operations

In July 2018, the Taliban launched an offensive against IS in the Jowzjan province.[250]

2021 U.S. airstrikes

On 27 August 2021, the United States launched an airstrike against three suspected ISKP members in Nangarhar Province.[251] On 29 August, a drone attack against a suspected Islamic State bomber in Kabul killed a family of 9, including 6 children.[252] A neighbor said that they estimated that the death toll might be as high as 20.[252][253]

Analysis[edit]

US General Sean Swindell told the BBC in June 2015 that members of Khorasan Province were in contact with ISIL's central leadership in Syria although the exact relationship between the two is unclear.[254]

Membership[edit]

According to a UN report, up to 70 IS fighters arrived from Iraq and Syria to form the initial core of the group in Afghanistan.[43] Most of the group's membership growth has come from recruiting Afghan defectors from the Taliban.[54] In Afghanistan, IS has not only been recruiting from the villages but also the urban middle class and specifically targeting the universities as there have been cases of lecturers in Islamic law as well as students at Kabul University pledging allegiance to the group.[255] In Pakistan it had a support basis in nine major religious seminaries and around a hundred smaller ones as well some 150 mosques.[256]

Foreign fighters from Pakistan and Uzbekistan are also known to be part of the group.[54] Other foreign fighters have included Indians, with 14 Keralites having been freed by the Taliban from prison following the fall of Kabul.[257] The Taliban also claimed that two Malaysians of ISIS-K were caught by them following a gun battle in Kabul on August 26, 2021.[258] Individuals from Myanmar and Bangladesh[34] have also been part of it, and one known Bangladeshi national of ISIS-K was arrested by the Afghan intelligence in 2020.[259]

Foothold and strategy[edit]

While the group has managed to establish a foothold in Afghanistan, it has largely carried out isolated, smaller-scale attacks in Pakistan.[16] The group has also failed to establish a foothold in Pakistan because of anti-terrorism operations conducted by Pakistan's law enforcement agencies against the group. A series of successful operations by US, Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan against the group also crippled group's ability to operate in the region.[260]

Designation as a terrorist organization[edit]

Country Date References
 United States 20 May 2016 [261]
 Australia 3 November 2017 [262]
 Canada 23 May 2018 [263]
 India 21 June 2018 [264]
 United Nations 14 May 2019 [265]
 Argentina 14 May 2019 [266]
 New Zealand 14 May 2019 [267]
 Iraq 16 May 2019 [268]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]