US Officials Claim Afghanistan ISIS as Threat to Attack the West

Intel officials say Kabul attacks are 'practice runs' for bigger attacks abroad

US and Afghan officials are playing up the threat posed by the ISIS affiliate operating in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K. They say the group is rapidly gaining international reach, and that a threat against the West is only a matter of time.

ISIS-K has been an enduring presence in parts of Afghanistan, particularly in Nangarhar Province. The group has been targeted by repeated offensives, and the Afghan government has falsely claimed the group had been wiped out several times.

With the main ISIS groups in Iraq and Syria fading into obscurity, and controlling less and less territory, a lot of focus is shifting to ISIS-K, who at least is alive and functioning. Both Russia and the US have warned over the past month that this group is getting substantially bigger.

US officials say that since the ISIS core mandate is external attacks, it is necessary that the ISIS-K group’s main goal is to attack Western targets as well, adding “it is very scary.”

So far ISIS-K has been very focused in attacking Afghanistan itself, and the immediate areas around the border. US intelligence officials say that they believe ISIS-K attacks in Kabul are just “practice runs” for bigger attacks in Europe and North America.

Though ISIS-K is clearly getting larger, Russia’s concern that the group might attack north across the border into the former Soviet states might be more likely than attacks so far from their base of operations.

For US officials averse to a peace deal with the Taliban, which necessarily requires a US pullout from Afghanistan, playing up the threat of ISIS-K is a chance to try to justify continued military intervention.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.