The terror group known as “ISIS-K” has reportedly claimed responsibility for the Thursday terror attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed at least 13 U.S. service members and at least 95 Afghans. Although the Pentagon initially claimed there were two explosions, they said Friday afternoon that there was only one.
As reported by Reuters, the Islamic State took responsibility for the attack — something that was highly suspected.
Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), an affiliate of militants who previously battled U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq, said it had carried out the attack, which killed dozens of people – including Afghans who were trying to leave the country and at least a dozen U.S. service members.
In claiming responsibility, Islamic State said a suicide bomber “managed to reach a large gathering of translators and collaborators with the American army at ‘Baran Camp’ near Kabul Airport and detonated his explosive belt among them, killing about 60 people and wounding more than 100 others, including Taliban fighters.”
A Taliban official told Reuters the group arrested an ISIS fighter at the airport a few days ago and under interrogation he told them about plans for attacks. In response, the Taliban said it postponed gatherings in public places and advised its top leaders not to gather.
Early Friday, Reuters reported, “It was not clear if suicide bombers detonated both blasts or if one was a planted bomb. It was also not clear if ISIS gunmen were involved in the attack or if the firing that followed the blasts was Taliban guards firing into the air to control crowds.”
“General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said U.S. commanders were watching for more attacks by Islamic State, including possibly rockets or car bombs targeting the airport,” the outlet noted.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. would respond, but did not include specific information.
“I’ve also told my commanders to attack ISIS-K assets. And we will respond with precision, at our time, at a place that we choose, and the moment of our choosing,” Biden said. “Here’s what you need to know. These ISIS terrorists will not win.”
As The Daily Wire reported Thursday, the group is known as “ISIS-K,” which specifies it as the “Khorasan” branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Khorasan is a wider historical region and “a vast territory now lying in northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan,” per Britannica.
A 2018 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted, “Like the Islamic State’s core leadership in Iraq and Syria, IS-K seeks to establish a Caliphate beginning in South and Central Asia, governed by sharia law, which will expand as Muslims from across the region and world join.”
“IS-K has received support from the Islamic State’s core leadership in Iraq and Syria since its founding in 2015,” the report stated.
The report added:
IS-K disregards international borders and envisions its territory transcending nation-states like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Furthermore, its global aspirations include “[raising] the banner of al-Uqab above Jerusalem and the White House,” which equates to the defeat of both Israel and the United States.18 IS-K’s ideology seeks to rid its territory of foreign “crusaders” who “proselytize Muslims” as well as “apostates,” which include anyone from Sunni Afghan National Army recruits to Hazara Shias.
Katherine Zimmerman, a fellow in foreign and defense policy for the American Enterprise Institute, told Fox News that the organization has a stricter view of its interpretation of Islam than the Taliban does, which has created an antagonistic relationship between the two groups.
“They define their enemies differently,” she said. “The Islamic State sees anybody who does not accept its vision as an enemy – that includes the Taliban, that includes the Shia, that includes the west,” Zimmerman added.
A former intelligence officer and senior fellow for the Hudson Institute, Michael Pregent, told Fox News, “The Taliban is loyal to al Qaeda …They have not pledged loyalty to ISIS-K, but that doesn’t mean they won’t just pause their rivalries to go and make America bleed on the way out.”
On Tuesday, prior to the attack, President Biden mentioned the terrorist group, saying, “There are real and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration. The longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan — which is the sworn enemy of the Taliban as well — every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and Allied forces and innocent civilians.”
This article has been updated to include additional information.