Several explosions occurred near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday in Afghanistan, and a branch of the terrorist group, the Islamic State, is suspected to have played a part in the attacks.
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.”
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the group was formed six years ago “by disaffected Pakistani Taliban.” It has gone through with dozens of attacks in Afghanistan this year. “American military and intelligence analysts say threats from the group include a bomb-laden truck, suicide bombers infiltrating the crowd outside Hamid Karzai International Airport and mortar strikes against the airfield,” the outlet reported on Wednesday.
CTV News of Canada reported, “In the first four months of 2021, the UN says that there were 77 attacks in Afghanistan that were attributed to or claimed by ISIS-K. That’s up from the same period in 2020, which saw only 21 ISIS-K attacks.”
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.
On Tuesday, President Joe 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.”
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.”
As reported by The Daily Wire:
Multiple explosions went off near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday days before the United States expected to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon confirmed one explosion near the airport Thursday morning. Fox News correspondent Jen Griffin reported another explosion immediately after at Kabul’s Baron Hotel, which has been a gathering place for Americans waiting to be evacuated from the country.
NEW: @JenGriffinFNC One explosion reported near Barron hotel – where Americans in past have gathered for rescue.
This makes two confirmed explosions
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 26, 2021
“A U.S. military official confirmed that at least one explosion had occurred at the Abbey Gate, a main entryway to the international airport. Early reports indicated that the explosion was caused by at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. It was unclear how many people were injured or whether anyone was killed, but large crowds have been gathering at the gate in recent days,” The New York Times reported.
“Elsewhere in the city, sporadic gunfire and alarms could heard from the airport,” the outlet added.
The Daily Wire added, “The attacks come as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan and end a weeks-long rush to evacuate Americans and Afghan visa holders. The total number of injuries remain unclear, however a preliminary report indicates that at least 13 people are dead and numerous injured from the bombings.”
“Earlier on Thursday, multiple countries suspended evacuation operations over terror threats reported near the airport. Thousands of Afghans and westerners have gathered outside the perimeter of the airport over the weeks since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, toppling the Afghan government and forcing the president to flee the country. Desperate Afghans have crowded around the airport attempting to catch a flight out of the country over fear of the coming Taliban rule,” The Daily Wire noted.
“Islamic State-affiliated terrorists have been reported to be in the area, setting off security alerts among U.S. officials. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan sent out an alert to Americans still in the country, warning them to stay away from the airport.”