As the US is struggling to evacuate American citizens after a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, US troops have put a special focus on the threat posed by terrorist ISIS-K, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday, Reuters reports.
Sullivan demurred when asked if Biden administration fears that US citizens stranded in Afghanistan could become hostages or target, emphasizing how dangerous the evacuation process is, but pointed that they’ve negotiated with the Taliban to allow for the safe passage of people to the airport, reminding at the same time ISIS-K is a sworn enemy of the Taliban.
The Islamic State faction in Afghanistan was formed in 2015 in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar region mainly by fighters from the Pakistan-based Tehrik-i-Taliban and got its name from the so-called Khorasan province, a historical region covering parts of Afghanistan and Iran.
While other ISIS affiliates tried to launch attacks abroad, ISIS-K remained largely focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, repeatedly clashed with the Afghan Taliban that, at one point, even received air support by the US war planes, after which American troops were jokingly dubbing themselves Taliban Air Force.
Despite the expressed concerns about terrorism from ISIS-K, the White House offered no evidence of imminent attack and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pointed there not much US troops could do to track down would-be terrorists since they would not leave the Kabul airfield.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ISIS-K remains and receives support from IS in Iraq and Syria. Since January 2017, the group was involved in roughly 250 clashes with the US, Afghan, and Pakistani security forces and is responsible for nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.