Islamic State-Central versus Islamic State-Khurasan

Is the Islamic State of Khurasan Province becoming a global dominant terror outfit?

Is the Islamic State of Khurasan Province becoming a global dominant terror outfit?

Exclusive: As said by the global geopolitical dynamics, the IS-Central has been continuously losing momentum, while the IS-Khurasan gaining impetus to replace the IS-Central and take the lead plotting terror attack not only in its traditional domain but also across the world, especially in Europe. Umpiring the groups’ military capabilities, logistical support, command and Control, fighters, modus operandi, fundraising, and battle doctrines, it is essential to compare their drawbacks and advantageous.

The Islamic State-Central

The IS-Central is core power lies between western Syria and central Iraq called the Euphrates Valley. The Euphrates is one of the most historically significant rivers in Western Asia. It flows through several countries, including TurkeySyria, and Iraq, and plays a crucial role in shaping the region’s history and culture.

Origin and Course:The Euphrates originates in the Armenian highlands in Turkey, It has two main sources: the Murat River and the Karasu.These sources converge near Keban, Turkey, forming the main river.The Euphrates then flows southward through Syria and Iraq.

Mesopotamia: Along with the Tigris, the Euphrates defines an area historically known as Mesopotamia (which means “the land between the rivers”). Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilization, where significant developments like the invention of writing and the wheel occurred. Many great cities once lined the Euphrates, and some of their ruins remain to this day.

Length and Drainage Area:The Euphrates is approximately 2,780 kilometers (1,730 miles) long. Its drainage area covers about 440,000 square kilometers (170,000 square miles) across six countries.

 In the middle of the Euphrates and even in modern days with industrial level technology, in many cases the Greenbelt, which is possible to cultivate agricultural products. The central Euphrates region is only a few miles from north to South, so due to lacking food production, the inhabitants have been unbale create the dense population, Centers. The zones, which are essential for nurturing IS-Central is very long, which makes it very difficult to guard. Thus, this is the region, where the IS-Central operates, limited water storage. The geopolitics in that region tend to be very primeval and extremely raring. Which is why the IS-Central is so fierce, since it is a battle for survival among outfits mounting gradually.

Hence, ii almost impossible for IS-Central to exert leverage, while operating across the globe even within its traditional territories. From a broader perspective, the region surrounded by hard players, heading towards Levant, there is Israel and the mainland Syria. Northward there is the Turkey, Eastward is Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia: Along with the Tigris, the Euphrates defines an area historically known as Mesopotamia (which means “the land between the rivers”). Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilization, where significant developments like the invention of writing and the wheel occurred. Many great cities once lined the Euphrates, and some of their ruins remain to this day.

The region in the middle, where IS-Central operates lacking advantages and has never been powerful enough to breach any of those other three neighborhoods. The IS-Central could regain its territories of the Isis’s heyday a decade ago, if Israel doesn’t, if Syrian government was not functional and if Turkey and Iraq napping winter sleep.

Hence, the Syrian civil war, with diminishing central government and Iraq’s incapacity to patrol its own territory, paved the way for ISIS to recruit, expand, dominate groups, and basically go on a series of massacres. The current situation is not in favor of IS-Central, because Assad’s government is back to the driving east stabilizing most parts of the country, even if the civil war is far from over. Erdogan’s government is awakened from its winter sleep, and Iraqi powerhouse recalibrates its governmental policies. So, the former ISIS and the existing IS-Central days are gone, it has basically fallen from cult scheming territory to just a few garrisons make the group unlikely to kill enough people.

The IS-Khurasan

On the contrary, the IS-Khurasan enjoys wider range to plot and kill, since they see Shia as the worst apostates, allowing themselves to slaughter as many as they are willing to slay. Meanwhile the IS-K’s battle is not all about seizing territory, rather the group is interested in taking the battle wherever it may go. Wherever there is a secular government and even religious governments not aligned with Salafist ideology, therefore that has taken them against the Taliban, which they think are a bunch of horses.

Furthermore, butchering the Iranians, who are Shia, and that’s taken them against the Russians, who they see as oppressing their fellow Sunni followers. The IS-K is Uncensored as to who they take into their ranks as long as you’re not a Shia. Concerning Russia, there are a lot of subjugated Muslim populations, especially the Uzbeks and Tajiks, who are willing to join violent groups like IS-K. Besides, Kriges, Turkmen, and Dagestanis, Chechens, Bashkirs and Tatars, and all those Muslim communities who live within the Russian Federation appear to join IS-K.

So, the threat towards Russian is looming from both security and ideological point of view. The Russians have little ground to counter IS-K, because they don’t have a core territory, they’re a splinter group that’s based entirely on ideology.

On the other, Russia was able to crush the ISIS, since the group had a certain territory.

What makes the IS-K unique?

Now the question is, why IS-K got momentum, while replacing the IS-Central? The essential part, which has played a strategic role is the group’s war doctrine.

The group’s war doctrine included six momentous points: – destroying the competing states’, groups’ and individuals’ economic and financial infrastructure, targeting high-profile players, attacking international institutions and representations (embassies, businesses, cultural centers), promoting urbanized terrorism, fostering ruralized combat and cross border terrorism.

Meantime, the group positioned itself by projecting its power and dominance, since the return of Taliban to Afghanistan, South Asia especially Afghanistan, has become the center of terrorism and extremism, and many international and local armed extremist groups have taken refuge in Afghanistan, while making Europe their pending soft target.

The non-sate groups have been obtaining extensive military training camps and hideouts, in Afghanistan and throughout Central-South Asia, scrutinizing and evocating targets in the heart of the European continent. Beside their international sponsors, the terrorist outfits have also found extensive financial resources in Afghanistan, so that they can take significant measures to strengthen their financial spheres. The financial assets allow them to recalibrate their domain, while selecting and focusing on targets within the European community.

The main financial resources of IS-K

  1. Opium

Cultivation of opium in coordinated areas in Afghanistan, the value/Price of opium is being skyrocketing, across the world, especially in Europe, America, and Australia since the demand for heroin and other High-Level of drugs are high and increasing day to day, hence the IS-K receives a line share from the drugs trafficking.

  • illegal extraction of natural minerals and precious mines

Through illegal extraction and mining, the IS-K gets a large amount of money and then use that money to bolster its terrorist goals and extend its ambitions to Europe.

  • Chinese state and non-state mining companies

Th companies, which have gained significant influence in Afghanistan after the advent of the Taliban are currently more involved in illegal mining, down the road enable the IS-K to garner more assets.

  • Zakat & Usher

The group collect Zakat and usher from the leading international and domestic commercial industries to finance the outfit’s terror plots across the world.

The IS-K is strategizing to evoke Europe

The nurturing of ISKP-ISPP in Afghanistan and FATA-Waziristan regions of Pakistan, while aiming Central Asia and Europe. After August 15, 2021, around 20 armed extremist groups from around the world, especially from Central and South Asian countries have taken refuge in Afghanistan such as ISKP, Al-Qaeda, IMU, ETIM, Ansarullah-Tajikistan, TTP and others collaborating with ISKP in its mission. In Afghanistan, the recruitment of IS-K fighters has been accelerated and strengthened, and this group has received a large level of support, which aims not only to put pressure on the Taliban through suicide attacks in Afghanistan, rather, it is to extend its goals to Europe especially through eastern Europe to France, German and England.

Conclusion: Today’s ISIS or IS-Central is not the sort of group that can expand much beyond its current footprint and certainly not beyond that part of the Middle Euphrates where from time to time they could plot. On the other hand, for IS-K this course is the different sort of category, they are not constrained and could very well be reaching out to a place near the secular world soon that was way more provocative than it sounds while there have been certainly plots intruded by IS-K against the interests of the western world especially Europe.

Ajmal Sohail
Ajmal Sohail
Ajmal Sohail is a graduate in terrorism and extremism studies from both Leiden University in the Netherlands and Maryland University in the United States; he works in the meantime as an intelligence analyst and Counter-terrorism expert. He does remain well connected with the political players in his country, both those physically in Afghanistan and those working from outside, allowing him to gain insights into the extremely complex geopolitical situation in Afghanistan and in the South Asia region. He is the co-founder and co-president of the Counter Narco-Terrorism Alliance Germany, directing its intelligence and counter-terrorism portfolios. His analysis is regularly featured in various international news outlets, print and television and he even runs his own sources to get the most classified Intel. His analysis and other content can be accessed at his personal website: