State Department lists Islamic State’s ‘Khorasan Province’ as Foreign Terrorist Organization

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One year and four days after the Islamic State announced the formation of the “Khorasan Province,” the US State Department listed the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The designation is reproduced in full, below:

The Department of State has announced the designation of ISIL-K as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The consequences of the FTO designation include a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to this organization. The Department of State took this action in consultation with the Departments of Justice and the Treasury.

ISIL-K announced its formation on January 10, 2015. The group is based in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. The senior leadership of ISIL-K has pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL. This pledge was accepted in late January 2015 and since then ISIL-K has carried out suicide bombings, small arms attacks and kidnappings in eastern Afghanistan against civilians and Afghan National Security and Defense Forces, and claimed responsibility for May 2015 attacks on civilians in Karachi, Pakistan.

The imposition of sanctions by the United States against terrorists is an important element of our counterterrorism efforts. Designations of terrorists and terrorist groups expose and isolate individuals and organizations, and result in denial of access to the US financial system. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other US agencies and other governments.

As the designation notes, Islamic State Khorasan Province’s leadership is primarily made up of former members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan as well as the Afghan Taliban. These are mostly mid-level commanders who were disaffected with their leadership within the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. The group has marginal support among jihadists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban branches are much larger than the Islamic State, and they remain close allies with al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the Khorasan Province is thought to have 1,000 fighters who are largely confined to Nangarhar province. In Pakistan, the group has a small presence in the tribal agencies.

The US has treated the Islamic State Khorasan Province as a terrorist organization long before officially listing it as terrorist organization. Top leaders of the Khorasan Province have been targeted and killed in US airstrikes. Among those killed in US airstrikes over the past year include: Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, the deputy emir and a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay; Jalaluddin, the mufti or top religious leader; Shahidullah Shahid, its senior spokesman; and Gul Zamn Fateh, a deputy emir and commander for the Khyber tribal agency in Pakistan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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