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ISKP expands network in South and Central Asia

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It seems South and Central Asian countries, especially Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka are becoming focal point of a number of radical Islamic militancy outfits, including Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). Since Joe Biden’s humiliating retreat from Afghanistan in 2021 and the Taliban takeover of the country, ISKP has intensified and broadened its regional propaganda campaign mainly targeting South and Central Asian countries. Additionally, the Islamic State Khorasan Province has moved to spread its jihadists propaganda globally with both original and translated contents in an alarmingly larger number of languages, including English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and German. According to counterterrorism experts, ISKP leads in running massive propaganda in comparing to other branches of the Islamic State (ISIS). The key platform of ISKP propaganda is Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production, which spends hundreds of thousands of dollars towards propaganda activities.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State Khorasan Province has expanded its kinetic operational range beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan with rocket attacks against Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It may be mentioned here that, although ISKP is an Afghanistan-centric jihadist outfit, it has origins and deep-rooted history in Pakistan. In addition to ISKP’s presence in a number of provinces in Pakistan, it also has significant activities in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

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While ISKP is deeply involved in promoting ISIS cause, it’s fundamental focus in on building the branch at the local and regional level. The organization is seen as a potential threat to domestic security of a number of countries, including former Soviet Republics, Russia, China and India.

Commenting on the pattern of ISKP, counterterrorism experts said, it is transnational down to its very DNA and does not recognize what it sees as illegitimately and arbitrarily drawn national borders. This is inherent to the branch’s name, with “Khorasan” being the symbolic land from which the Messianic figure Mahdi will come, encompassing parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, and spreading its reach into Central Asia and India.

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Northward, the group promotes using force to establish the province of “Movarounnahr” (or Transoxiana) which means “that which (lies) beyond the river” and refers to ancient territory north of the Amu Darya, which roughly lays along the border between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia.

ISKP, which is relatively newer in the gang of jihadist entities pledged allegiance to ISIS officially in January 2015 – was based in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, mostly in the districts of Achin, Niyazan, Mahmud Dara, Chaparhar, and Shinwar.

Newer tactics of ISKP

Islamic State in Khorasan Province or ISKP is a jihadist outfit comprising Uzbek, Tajik and Uighur militants from Central Asian post-Soviet countries and China’s province of Xinjiang. Although in the recent days, ISKP has become distinguished from other foreign fighters by their sophisticated jihadists tactics challenging the Afghan Taliban regime, this group now is plotting series of jihadist suicide attacks through inghimasi attackers targeting several cities and towns in China and Russia, while this dangerous jihadist outfit has started recruiting members of Tablighi Jamaat as inghimasi and giving them short-term training and orientation thus preparing recruited Tablighi Jamaat members for executing jihadist suicide attacks. The number of Tablighi Jamaat members joining ISKP as inghimasis is 50-60 who would enter China and Russia under various disguises, including religious preachers, students, tourists and small traders. To hide their identity of being radical Muslims, these recruited members of ISKP are shaving their beard for the convenience of disguise.

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During the recent time, ISKP has also started recruiting young females as inghimasis who are groomed to take disguise of “non-Muslims” wearing Western attire and even getting accustomed to drinking alcoholic beverage. Some of these female inghimasis may enter nightclubs, bars and discoes under the disguise of sex workers, hiding explosives and short weapons beneath skirts. They also are being trained to make explosives and plant in targeted vehicles and motorbikes within the surrounding areas of the nightclubs, bars and discoes.

According to another source, members of Islamic State and Al Qaeda are also adopting a newer trend of jihadist notoriety called ‘Needle Jihad’ or ‘Piercing Jihad’, a new jihadist menace which is already on rise in the European countries as well as the United Kingdom. This is a new jihadist act where Muslim youths are attacking females with needled contaminated with HIV and hepatitis viruses as well as mercury. Main target of the attackers is to infect those females with deadly viruses.

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