The IS Khorasan (IS-K) is the Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan’s complex landscape of insurgencies, terrorism, and political and tribal crevasses. First seen in 2015, its visibility has steadily increased over the past few years, conducting (or claiming responsibility for) attacks conducted in and around the capital city of Kabul.
Current narratives around IS-K are convoluted, with the group having a mixture of members of former insurgent groups not only in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan as well. The relative rise of IS-K comes at a time when Afghanistan is embarking on a long process of reconciliation and potential peace with the Taliban, as the US plans its military withdrawal.
The IS-K threat—set against the peace negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the US—is a fulcrum moment not just for Afghanistan, but for South Asian security in general. Indeed, along a wide swathe of corridor that stretches from the Iran–Afghan border all the way to Kashmir, insurgency has thrived, with and without state assistance. Insurgent and terror groups that flourish without the state are the ones that apply themselves both strategically and tactically to navigate political and military grey areas. As for IS-K, it is difficult to study its patterns and hierarchies, and even more to decipher available information in order to form a concrete understanding of its security implications for the wider South Asian region.