Islamic State Khurasan Down but Not Out Under Increased Taliban CT and Spy Pressure
In late April, international media reported on the elimination of the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) official responsible for planning the August 26, 2021, Kabul airport suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and an estimated 170 Afghans. This was followed by news that ISKP’s alleged second-in-command and deputy to Sanaullah Ghafair, Engineer Omar, was liquidated in Shakardara district north of Kabul. While these operations have drawn the most attention, the Taliban has been intensifying its counter-terrorism efforts across the country and degrading the Islamic State’s Khorasan networks in Afghanistan. This is observable in the decline of ISKP’s attack numbers and its propaganda output.
For more than a year following the takeover, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) had struggled to contain ISKP as the group waged an intense guerilla warfare and urban terrorism campaign targeting vulnerable ethnoreligious communities, Taliban security forces and officials, foreign nationals, and diplomatic missions.