The horrific bombing outside of Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. troops and up to 75 Afghan civilians was the work of the Islamic State – Khorasan (ISIS-K). The group is an offshoot of ISIS which had occupied parts of Syria and Iraq in a self-described “caliphate.”

The attack on Thursday began when ISIS-K terrorists detonated suicide devices, one near the Abbey Gate of the airport and another at the nearby Baron Hotel. Gunmen were also involved in the violence.

There had previously been numerous warnings that such an attack could take place. 

While the name of ISIS-K might not be very familiar to the average American, it is quite well-known to U.S. and allied counterterrorism forces who have been attacking the group within the borders of Afghanistan for quite some time. 


The Origins of ISIS-K

Kabul airport attack
Smoke rises above Kabul airport after the suicide bombing. (AP)

The Islamic State Khorasan was formed in late 2014 and operates as an ISIS affiliate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khorasan is a historical term for a region that includes present-day Afghanistan and parts of Iran and Central Asia.

The founding members of ISIS-K included militants who left both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban because they did not feel the Taliban were extreme enough in their enforcement of strict Sharia law. The members used tactics that were brutal even by Taliban standards, such as public executions, bombing girls’ schools, attacking maternity wards, and executing tribal elders.

However, unlike the Taliban, who are interested in only Afghanistan, ISIS-K is part of the global terrorist network against Western, international, and humanitarian targets.