Voice of America (VOA) says various intelligence estimates from the U.S. and other countries warn that the group, known as ISIS-K, nearly doubled in size to more than 4,000 fighters during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year. The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia said on March 15 that without sustained pressure from the U.S. and U.S.-backed Afghan forces, the IS affiliate is solidifying its foothold.

"We are concerned about the developmental trajectory of ISIS-K,” U.S. Central Command’s General Kenneth Frank McKenzie told U.S. lawmakers.

“We continue to watch carefully as ISIS grows,” he said. “ISIS has been able to execute some high-profile attacks even in Kabul over the last several months. … It is my expectation that ISIS attacks will ramp up as we go into the summer."

McKenzie said that ISIS-K will be able to conduct attacks out of Afghanistan in 12 to 18 months.

The US CENTCOM commander added, though the Taliban have been suppressing the terror groups across Afghanistan but warned that ISIS-K will ramp up its attacks in the summer even in Kabul.

McKenzie in his final appearance before Senate Panel said the Taliban did not help themselves by releasing one thousand ISIS-K affiliates from Afghanistan’s jail following their takeover in August last year.

The US General’s concern over ISIS-K in Afghanistan comes as the de facto authorities in Kabul deny the terror group to be a threat to Afghanistan or other countries from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Khaama Press reported on March 16 that acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in his recent speech in Antalya’s Diplomacy Forum said that the US along with NATO failed to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan but they (the Taliban) uprooted the militants from Afghanistan.

(ISIS-K is an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) active in South Asia and Central Asia. Some media sources also use the terms ISK (or IS–K), IS–KP or Daesh–Khorasan in referring to the group. ISIS-K has been active in Afghanistan and its area of operations includes Pakistan, Tajikistan and India where they claimed attacks, as well as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and China where individuals have pledged allegiance to it.  The ISIS-K and Taliban consider each other enemies.

The group was created in January 2015 by disaffected Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, although its membership includes individuals from various countries notably Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.  Its initial leaders, Hafiz Saeed Khan and Abdul Rauf Aliza, were killed by US forces in July 2016 and February 2015, respectively.  Subsequent leaders have also been killed; its leader Abdullah Orokzai was captured in April 2020 by Afghanistan's intelligence service.

ISIS-K has conducted numerous high-profile attacks against civilians mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In July 2018, ISIS-K bombings killed 149 in Mastung, Pakistan.  In May 2021, an ISIS-K bombing killed 90 in Kabul.  In August 2021, ISIS-K killed 13 American military personnel and at least 169 Afghans during the U.S. evacuation of Kabul, which marked the highest number of U.S. military deaths in an attack in Afghanistan since 2011.