Unclassified intelligence report reveals that the Islamic State (ISIS) – Khorasan is growing in numbers and ambition. ISIS – Khorasan now boosts of 5,000 fighters, about five times as many as estimates from 2018, and are planning bigger and more ‘spectacular attacks’.
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According to the latest quarterly report by the Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom Sentinel, shared by US Forces – Afghanistan, states that ‘low confidence’ estimates. It highlights that ISIS – Khorasan has fighters in Kabul, Nangarhar and Kunar provinces as well as other parts of northeastern Afghanistan.
Defence intelligence officials say the terror group has been gaining ground, both against the Afghan government and the Taliban. It has expanded the amount of territory under its control in Kunar province since the start of this year.
Col. Dave Butler, the spokesman for US Forces – Afghanistan said they are concerned about their capability and trajectory. Col. Butler said ISIS – Khorasan has made it clear that they aspire to attack the United States and its allies. “ISIS does a lot of recruiting in Afghanistan and the region attempting to enlist disaffected youth and even tech-savvy young people looking for an alternative.”
However in September 2018, the outgoing commander of US Forces – Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson had said that the group is not growing. Other top US military officials had insisted that ISIS – Khorasan was being kept in check. Experts say ISIS – Khorasan found a way to maintain its numbers, successfully recruiting disgruntled Taliban fighters as well as jihadis. Many of the recruits are local. Furthermore, the group has taken a page out of ISIS core’s playbook, targeting young men seeking economic opportunity.
Alexander Bortnikov, Russia’s top intelligence official warned that 5,000 ISIS foreign fighters were massing along Afghanistan’s northern border, potentially threatening former Soviet states in the region. Authorities and countries in the region are on high alert and monitoring the situation.