The Islamic State in Khorasan, ISIS-K, based in Afghanistan will have the ability to target United States citizens in Europe and Asia within the next six months, according to General Michael Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command. The Daily Mail reports that Kurilla told Congress the terrorist group could claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans abroad, adding that they have their eyes set on attacking the American homeland. Kurilla did not give a time frame on such an attack as ISIS-K reportedly does not have such capabilities at this time.
Kurilla shared his comments on Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee while making a request for funds for the fiscal year 2024. Kurilla explained that there is a need for munitions that can “hit ‘hard and deeply buried’ ISIS-K targets in Afghanistan.”
ISIS-K is the group that has claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport attack in August 2021 that killed 13 American soldiers and 170 Afghan civilians. Throughout 2022, ISIS-K continued attacking mosques and schools. Kurilla warned that they are seeking to expand their ranks and launch more attacks in the region and beyond “with the ultimate goal to strike on the American homeland.”
In response to Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) questioning at what point the terrorist organization may be able to launch an attack on the homeland, Kurilla explained that it is difficult to put a timestamp on that, but he thinks the greater likelihood of an attack is overseas. An attack abroad would affect hundreds of thousands of Americans, said Kurilla, where troops, tourists, and people working abroad would be vulnerable.
A growing affiliate of ISIS, ISIS-K has strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, the border with Pakistan in Nangarhar province, and the north of Afghanistan. The group was created in 2015 by “disillusioned Taliban members.” ISIS-K is considered the “primary threat to the Taliban’s efforts to instill peace in the country.” The group is also considered to be a problem internationally as they have attacked foreign targets.
Since the collapse of the Western-backed government in Afghanistan after the disastrous U.S. withdrawal, ISIS-K grew from about 2,200 members to closer to 4,000. The perceived threat of the group is not new, but still of grave concern according to intelligence officials who are monitoring their potential capabilities.