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President Biden warned of terror group “ISIS-K” in Tuesday speech

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo courtesy of CNN

President Joe Biden warned about the dangers of a group called ISIS-K in a speech addressing the American withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday. 

But what is ISIS-K?

“Every day we’re on the ground,” said President Biden on Tuesday, as he spoke from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, “is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces, and innocent civilians.”

Mr. Biden made this statement in a speech on Tuesday explaining that his administration will attempt to stick to an Aug. 31 deadline for the removal of Americans, Afghans and others who don’t want to live under the grip of the Taliban.

Who or what is ISIS-K?

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when abbreviated, spells ISIS. This is a militant organization that grew out of al-Qaeda in 2014.  By saying “ISIS-K,” the President was referring to ISIS-Khorasan. Khorasan is the ISIS “affiliate” in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), since 2017, ISIS-K has been involved in “nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan” as well as 250 clashes with security forces from the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. 

According to  USA Today, ISIS-K and the Taliban fight each other regularly.

The group considers the Taliban to be “insufficiently devout in its adherence to Islam,” reported USA Today in 2019. 

The group’s initial ruler and three subsequent leaders were all killed by the United States in targeted attacks; the first in July, 2016, then in April and July, 2017, and in August, 2018.

ISIS-K was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State in January 2016. The CSIS reports that the US and NATO have conducted more than 300 airstrikes against the group since January 2017. 

The CSIS reports that ISIS-K “seeks to establish a Caliphate beginning in South and Central Asia, governed by sharia law.”

Wasn’t ISIS eliminated?

The United States and a coalition of other countries began airstrikes against ISIS (in Iraq) in 2014. By 2017, the group had lost much of its ground in Iraq as well as Syria and the nation of Iraq declared its war against ISIS over in December of 2017.

However, NBC News reported that, at that time, analysts feared the group had retreated into a “virtual caliphate.”

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