Washington: Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group in Afghanistan poses a top threat for carrying out spectacular attacks in the United States, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official quoted by USA Today.
USA Today further reports:
ISIS-K has hundreds of fighters and has shown increasing effectiveness in its tactics and recruiting in Afghanistan, said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee who recently visited Afghanistan.
“It’s growing in sophistication and numbers,” Reed said.
Inspiring, financing and directing attacks abroad is a key goal. A chief worry: a terrorist recruit, for example, driving a truck through a crowd in the United States, the intelligence official said, citing the type of assault the group aspires to.
In the last three years, ISIS-K has been emboldened by success in Afghanistan, said the senior intelligence official.
For instance, it mounted six major attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul in 2016. That grew to 18 attacks in 2017 and 24 in 2018, the official said. The group is on pace to match or exceed that total this year.
ISIS-K has sought recruits among disaffected college graduates in Kabul, the official said. Doing so allows them to tap into their expertise gained in school and their ability to obtain visas and travel the world as terrorist operatives.
U.S.-led counter-terrorism strikes and law enforcement efforts have prevented ISIS-K from attacking targets in the United States, the official said. Gen. Joseph Votel, the recently retired commander of U.S. Central Command, said the group was “not reconcilable” and required eradication.
U.S.-led airstrikes have pounded ISKP strongholds in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, most notably the use in 2017 of the largest conventional bomb in the U.S. arsenal, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, also known as the Mother of All Bombs. The explosion killed an estimated 96 ISKP fighters.