Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province
Wilayah Khorasan |
Participant in the War in North-West Pakistan and the War in Afghanistan
The Black Standard of ISIL.
|Active||26 January 2015–present|
|Leaders||Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader of ISIL) Hafiz Saeed Khan †|
|Area of operations||Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia.|
|Part of||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant|
|Merger of||Defectors from Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and other factions who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State|
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (IS-K, Wilayah Khorasan) is a branch of the militant Islamist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
ISIL announced the group's formation in January 2015 and appointed former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militant Hafiz Saeed Khan as its leader, with former Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Aliza appointed as deputy leader. Aliza was killed in a U.S. drone strike in February 2015, while Khan was killed in a U.S. airstrike in July 2016. Its current leader is unknown.
Around September 2014, ISIL sent representatives to Pakistan to meet with local militants, including some Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions, following several months of discussions. At the same time, leaflets, flags and propaganda materials in support of ISIL 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. In October 2014, former Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Khadim visited Iraq, later returning to Afghanistan where he recruited followers in Helmand and Farah provinces. In the same month, 6 TTP commanders in Pakistan; 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.
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.
On 26 January 2015, ISIL'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 modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hafiz Khan Saeed was appointed as its local leader, or Wāli (Governor). Abdul Rauf was named as Khan's deputy, however he was killed by a US drone strike in Afghanistan several weeks later.
ISIL began actively recruiting defectors from the Taliban, particularly 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. Nevertheless, fighting between the two groups broke out in Nangarhar Province, and by June 2015 ISIL had been able to seize territory in Afghanistan for the first time. After successfully driving the Taliban out of several districts of Nangarhar after months of clashes, the group started carrying out their first attacks against Afghan forces in the province. Khorasan Province also developed a presence in other provinces, including Helmand and Farah. In late 2015, ISIL began broadcasting Pashto language radio in Nangarhar Province, later adding content in Dari.
The group was boosted in August 2015 when the Afghanistan-based militant group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), pledged allegiance to ISIL and declared they were now members of Wilayah Khorasan. Clashes broke out between the IMU and the Taliban in Zabul province following this pledge. The Taliban launched an offensive against the Uzbeks, causing heavy casualties and eliminating its presence in the province by the end of the year. The Taliban also succeeded in dislodging ISIL from Farah province over the same period.
The group suffered further reversals in 2016, losing control of much of its territory in Nangarhar province. It was driven out of Achin and Shinwar Districts following a military operation by Afghan Security Forces, while clashes with the Taliban led to them being driven out of Batikot and Chaparhar districts. 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 ISIL targets. In April 2016 the Taliban reported that a number of senior and mid-level leaders of Wilayah Khorasan in Nangarhar Province had defected from ISIL 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 several field commanders and their fighters.
As of this time, they control several districts in southeast Afghanistan, with cells ambushing Afghan government forces, local warlords and Taliban patrols while avoiding open warfare. They have ambushed and killed several Red Crescent and Médecins Sans Frontières staff and Afghan Police and tribal militia in an ambush.
According to a UN report, up to 70 ISIL fighters arrived from Iraq and Syria to form the core of the group in Afghanistan. Alongside foreign fighters from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, most of the group's membership growth has come from recruiting Afghan defectors from the Taliban. US General Sean Swindell told the BBC that members of Khorasan Province are in contact with ISIL's central leadership in Syria, although the exact relationship between the two is unclear.
Claimed and alleged attacks
|18 April 2015||Jalalabad suicide bombing||Jalalabad, Afghanistan||A suicide bomber detonated outside a bank in Jalalabad, killing dozens. First major ISIL Khorasan attack in Afghanistan.||33||100|
|13 May 2015||2015 Karachi bus shooting||Karachi, Pakistan||A group of 8 gunmen attacked a bus in Karachi, killing more than 40 people. Claim disputed. Would be first ISIL Khorasan attack in Pakistan if accurate.||45+||Dozens|
|20 June 2016||Kabul attack on Canadian Embassy guards||Kabul, Afghanistan||A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Canadian embassy security guards. Both ISIL and the Taliban claimed responsibility.||At least 14||9|
|23 July 2016||July 2016 Kabul bombing||Kabul, Afghanistan||Two suicide bombers blew themselves up during a protest by the Hazara ethnic minority, killing 80 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||130+|
|24 October 2016||October 2016 Quetta attacks||Quetta, Pakistan||Three heavily armed terrorists carried out mass shooting at police cadets at the Quetta Police Training College while they were asleep. One terrorist killed during operation, while other two blew themselves up, killing 61 cadets. (Also claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi)||61||160+|
|26 October 2016||October 2016 Ghor killings||Ghor Province, Afganistan||Fighters killed at least 30 civilians after abducting them in the remote Afghan province of Ghor.||30||0|
|26 October 2016||October 2016 Jalalabad attack||Jalalabad, Afganistan||An Islamic State suicide bomber killed a number of Afghan tribal elders.||4-15||25|
|4 November 2016||November 2016 Ghor killings||Ghor Province, Afganistan||Islamic State executed 31 civilians in Ghor Province.||31||0|
|5 November 2016||November 2016 Ghor kidnapping||Ghor Province, Afganistan||Islamic State abducted at least 6 civilians in Ghor province.||0||6 kidnapped|
|12 November 2016||2016 Khuzdar bombing||Khuzdar, Pakistan||At least 55 people including women and children were killed and over 100 injured when a suicide bomber went off in the crowded Shah Noorani Shrine in Hub town, Lasbela District, Balochistan, Pakistan.||55 (+1)||102+|
|16 November 2016||November 2016 Kabul bombing||Kabul, Afganistan||A suicide bomber blew himself up in a convoy with members of the Afghan National Security Forces, near the Defence ministry. At least four people were killed and eleven others injured.||6 (+1)||15|
|21 November 2016||November 2016 Kabul suicide bombing||Kabul, Afganistan||At least 32 people were killed and over 80 were injured in a suicide bombing at a Kabul Shia mosque "Baqir-ul-Olum".||30 (+1)||15|
|25 November 2016||November 2016 Jalalabad bombings||Jalalabad, Afganistan||Multiple bombs killed at least 6 people and injured 27 others. The explosions occurred in Jalalabad city.||6||27|
Designation as a terrorist organization
|United States||29 September 2015|
- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
- Turkestan Islamic Party
- Islamic State of Afghanistan
- Islamic State of Pakistan
- Greater Khorasan
- "IS announces expansion into AfPak, parts of India". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Islamic State group loyalists eye a presence in Afghanistan". Associated Press. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Afghan Security Crisis Sets Stage for Terrorists' Resurgence". New York Times.
- "ISIS reportedly moves into Afghanistan, is even fighting Taliban". 12 January 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Taliban Captures IS Bases in Afghanistan". Voice of America. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
- "Pakistan Taliban reject Islamic State leader's claim to be 'caliph'". Reuters. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
In its latest statement, the Pakistani Taliban, like the Afghan Taliban, also condemn the ‘barbarity’ of Islamic State’s rule. “Baghdadi’s caliphate is not Islamic because in a real caliphate you provide real justice while Baghdadi’s men kill many innocent mujahideen (fighters) of other groups,” the statement said.
- "Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters". State.gov. 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
- "Afghanistan drone strike 'kills IS commander Abdul Rauf'". BBC News. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
A drone strike in Afghanistan has killed a militant commander who recently swore allegiance to Islamic State (IS), officials say. The police chief of Helmand said that former Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Rauf had died in the strike.
- "Top ISIS commander killed in U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan". BNO News. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
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- "Islamic State moves in on al-Qaeda turf". BBC News. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "IS Loyalists Kill 3 Police in First Attack on Afghan Forces". The New York Times. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
- "Seth G. Jones - ISIS' South Asia Strategy". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
- "The Islamic State Is Spreading Into Pakistan". The New Republic. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Islamic State gaining ground in Afghanistan: UN". AFP. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Pakistani Taliban leaders pledge allegiance to Islamic State". Washington Post. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Situating the emergence of the Islamic State of Khorasan". CTC Sentinel. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Pakistani Taliban splinter group again pledges allegiance to Islamic State". Long War Journal. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "'Wilayat Khurasan': Islamic State Consolidates Position in AfPak Region". Jamestown Foundation. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "IS announces expansion into AfPak, parts of India". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- "Afghanistan drone strike 'kills IS commander Abdul Rauf'". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Taliban urge Islamic State to stop 'interference' in Afghanistan". Reuters. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Exclusive: In turf war with Afghan Taliban, Islamic State loyalists gain ground". Reuters. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "IS Loyalists Kill 3 Police in First Attack on Afghan Forces". Associated Press. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Afghan official: IS group present in at least 3 provinces". Associated Press. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "A new Islamic State radio station spreads panic in eastern Afghanistan". Washington Post. 22 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "IS Radio Expands Reach in Afghanistan". Voice of America. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "IMU Declares It Is Now Part Of The Islamic State". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- "Wilayat Khorasan Stumbles in Afghanistan". Jamestown Foundation. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- "The Islamic Movement Of Uzbekistan Comes Unraveled". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 28 November 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- "Air strikes hit Islamic State in Afghanistan under new rules: U.S.". Reuters. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- Roggio, Bill (11 April 2016). "Senior Islamic State Khorasan leaders defect to Taliban". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- "Afghanistan fighters 'linked to Islamic State in Syria'". BBC News. 30 June 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- "Islamic State is having a hard time taking root in Pakistan". The Washington Post. 5 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Aamir Iqbal (8 August 2016). "Suicide blast claimed by Taliban faction in Pakistan claims at least 64 lives". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Shah, Syed Ali; Sherani, Hafeezullah (24 October 2016). "60 killed in twin suicide attacks as terrorists storm police training college in Quetta". Dawn. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "Quetta attack survivor: 'We were sleeping when terrorists attacked'". CNN. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
- "At Least 61 Die as Militants Storm Police College Near Quetta, Pakistan". The New York Times. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "Ghor attack: 30 civilians killed in Afghan province".
- "ISIS Kills Afghan Tribal Elders in Jalalabad Suicide Attack". 1 November 2016.
- "ISIS kidnap 6 civilians in Ghor, days after killing 31 Afghan civilians - Khaama Press (KP) - Afghan News Agency".
- "At least 52 killed, 102 injured in blast at Khuzdar shrine". 12 November 2016.
- CNN, Ehsan Popalzai and Euan McKirdy. "Afghanistan: Suicide bomber kills 4 near Defense Ministry in Kabul".
- "IS claims attack that kills dozens at Shi'ite mosque in Kabul". 21 November 2016 – via Reuters.
- "Six killed, dozens wounded by blasts in Afghan city". 25 November 2016 – via Reuters.