Founded in 2015, ISIS aims to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan – a region that covers Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. The number of its fighters – who see the Taliban as too liberal – is believed to be 2,200. But that number could rise significantly amid political uncertainty. There are now fears from the great Western powers that ISIS will launch a wave of terrorist attacks in an attempt to destabilize the Taliban’s efforts to form a government, with evacuees being prominent targets.
In a statement issued last night, the British Foreign Office warned UK citizens against traveling to Kabul airport amid a rapidly escalating threat of terrorism and the precarious security situation.
Guidelines now advise anyone in the area to “remove to a safe place and wait for further advice”.
Armed Forces Minister James Hebe has described the terrorist threat to people outside Kabul airport as a “killer” amid concerns about the branch of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan, ISIS-K.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I cannot stress the desperation of the situation enough, the threat is credible, it is imminent, it is fatal.
“And we wouldn’t say that if we weren’t really interested in offering the Islamic State a target.”
Australia and the United States have also issued alerts, asking everyone outside the airport to leave immediately.
As the deadline for withdrawal, August 31, approaches, the terrorist threat poses a serious challenge to evacuation goals in the West.
“Every day we are on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack American and allied forces and innocent civilians,” the US president said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.
Kabul airport is currently under the control of the US military, which deploys 5,800 soldiers on the ground to organize the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans at risk of torture or killing at the hands of the Taliban or other armed groups.
ISIS Khorasan, which is also training child soldiers known as the “Cubs of the Caliphate”, has carried out a series of high-profile terrorist attacks in their region and they will realize that the chance of them striking the West in Afghanistan is closing.
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