What’s more, ISK has recently launched two significant cross-border attacks against Afghanistan’s neighbors. Late last month, the group claimed it had carried out a rocket attack on an Uzbek military base in the border town of Termez from the northern Afghan province of Balkh. And just yesterday, ISK claimed a second rocket attack, this time against Tajik military targets across the border from Afghanistan’s Takhar province. If these attacks and ISK’s propaganda campaigns targeting Uzbek and Tajiks for recruitment are any indicators, the group is growing bolder in its strategy to foment tensions between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s neighbors. This strategy—and any Taliban weakness to counter it—bodes poorly for regional security prospects.
In the months between ISK’s major fall and spring attack waves, some experts declared that ISK's failure to carry out a large-scale attack in Afghanistan reflected the group’s demise under Taliban rule. However, temporary lulls in ISK attacks cannot be examined in isolation; a more rigorous analysis should guide assessments of the threat ISK poses in Afghanistan, the region, and beyond. To that end, this piece explores the depth of the ISK threat in Afghanistan, and shows how longstanding grievances held by the Taliban’s rival Islamist circles has provided a strong base for ISK in Afghanistan today.