The Khorasan group of the Islamic State that operates in South Asia attempted a suicide attack in India last year but failed, the top American counter-terrorism official has said.
In fact, the ISIS-Khorasan or the ISIS-K is of utmost concern to the US, said Russel Travers, Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Office of Director of National Intelligence, said on Tuesday.
"Of all of the branches and networks of ISIS, ISIS-K is certainly one of those of most concern, probably in the neighbourhood of 4,000 individuals or so," Travers said in response to a question from Indian-origin Senator Maggie Hassan.
"They have attempted to certainly inspire attacks outside of Afghanistan. They attempted last year to conduct a suicide attack in India. It failed," Travers said when Hassan asked about the ability of ISIS-K to carry out terrorist attacks in the region.
Travers did not provide further details of the failed suicide attack by the ISIS-K in India.
Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K), which took its name from a historical region that covered much of modern-day Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia, appeared in late 2014 in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it retains a stronghold. It announced its formation in January 2015 according to Reuters.
The group's leadership has pledged allegiance to Baghdadi but it is not clear that ISIS-K has direct operational links with the main movement.
Senator Hassan travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan last month, during which she said she heard firsthand the concerns of the US military about the growing, real threat from ISIS-K, the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.
"I heard clearly that ISIS-K threatens not only US forces in Afghanistan, but also has designs on striking the US homeland," she said.
Despite America's key victories against the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the terror outfit remains a deadly threat to the US, Senator Hassan said.
Travers said ISIS-K tried a couple of years ago to inspire an attack in New York but the FBI interrupted. Then there was an attack in Stockholm in 2017 that killed five people, he added.
"So they certainly have a desire and the propaganda would indicate that they want to conduct attacks outside of Afghanistan as far relatively limited," the counter-terrorism official said.
The ISIS-K has been responsible for nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and about 250 clashes with the US, Afghan and Pakistani security forces since January 2017. Though the ISIS-K has yet to conduct attacks against the US homeland, the terror group represents an enduring threat to the American and allied interests in South and Central Asia, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.
(With inputs from PTI)
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