What is ISIS-Khorasan? Why the Kabul Airport Bombers Think The Taliban are Too Moderate

Asia & Pacific

On Thursday night two bombs exploded just outside Kabul airport, killing at least 170 people, including 13 US service personnel. One bomb went off at the Abbey Gate entrance, where thousands were queuing to be evacuated.

Responsibility for the two twin explosions at Kabul airport on Thursday, 26 August, has been claimed by an organisation called ISIS-Khorasan.

ISIS – which is also known as Daesh – was founded in Syria and Iraq and carved out a huge swathe of territory which it described as a caliphate before it was defeated militarily by the Syrian government, Iraqi troops and Kurdish militiamen.

​ISIS, or ISIL, stands for Islamic State In Iraq and the Levant (ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām) and Khorasan is a reference to an ancient province of north-east Persia which included much of what is now Afghanistan.

Khorasan – which also included parts of what is today Turkmenistan and Iran – was home to a number of prominent Muslim scholars and theologians, including Imam Bukhari and Abu Dawood.

It is understood that in 2014 a number of disillusioned members split from the Taliban, swore allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and formed ISIS-Khorasan, sometimes referred to as ISIS-K.

​The Taliban has always been allied to al-Qaeda – whose leader Osama Bin Laden it sheltered until the US-led invasion in 2001 – and regards ISIS/Daesh with disdain and ill-disguised contempt.


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