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Afghanistan’s Islamic State branch engages in global conflict

The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) is an offshoot of the Islamic State group that has been recruiting among Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs. Despite its focus on Russia due to its embassy in Kabul and ties to the Taliban, ISKP has carried out attacks in Turkey and Iran, expanding its reach beyond Afghanistan. Estimates of ISKP’s strength range from fewer than 2,000 to 5,000 members.

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is not recognized by any government due to its severe restrictions on female education. ISKP is even more radical than the Taliban and criticizes them for what they see as appeasement to the West, including meeting with non-Islamic diplomats and accepting aid from unbelievers. In its nine-year existence, ISKP has primarily targeted Afghans but has global ambitions that were highlighted by an attack in Moscow that killed 139 people. American officials blamed ISKP for the attack, and Russia later arrested suspects from Tajikistan.

ISKP’s current leader, Shahab al-Muhajir, is of Arab descent and rarely heard from. Despite setbacks in Afghanistan, ISKP’s ability to connect with disaffected individuals makes them a significant threat.

By Samantha Jones

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