". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


General: Afghanistan Withdrawal Enhanced New Terror Threat to America

April 2, 2024

Resurgent Islamist terrorism poses a threat to the U.S. homeland, experts warned after a deadly attack in Moscow. “The deadly attack … has raised concerns that the terrorist group could potentially move to carrying out attacks in Europe and even here in the United States,” Family Research Council Action President Jody Hice summarized on “Washington Watch” Monday.

On March 22, terrorists armed with rifles, pistols, and knives opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow and lit fires that caused the roof to collapse, killing more than 100 concertgoers and injuring more than 500. Russian authorities have charged four men from Tajikistan with terrorism in the attack, for which the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has taken credit.

General Erik Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, recently warned that ISIS-K “retains the capability and the will to attack U.S. and Western interests abroad in as little as six months with little to no warning.”

ISIS-K’s Rapid Expansion

ISIS-K “morphed from a series of radical groups that were in eastern Syria [and] northern Iraq years ago, during the Obama administration,” Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert Maginnis explained on “Washington Watch” Monday. During the Trump administration, a U.S.-led coalition dismantled the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but not before its radical jihadis “spread elsewhere in the Middle East all the way to Afghanistan,” said Maginnis. Additionally, “they have tentacles not only in Central Asia, but all the way to northern and central Africa.”

The ISIS offshoot is “as radical an Islamic group as we’ve ever seen,” Maginnis described, to the point that they target other Islamists for their alleged compromises. Not only is ISIS-K “in contest with al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” as Maginnis said, but they have also attacked neighboring Muslim countries. In 2023, ISIS-K killed more than 60 people by bombing a political rally in Pakistan, and two ISIS-K suicide bombers killed 90 and injured more than 200 Iranians in January.

“They’ve got tentacles located in places like Tajikistan to the north … where the four suspects that were involved in the Moscow attack on the 22nd of March came from,” Maginnis continued. “One of the reasons I suspect they went after the Muscovites was because of the Chechnya battle that claimed tens of thousands of Muslim lives in 1990, but also because of the history of the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.”

ISIS-K’s Deadly Tactics

From suicide bombings and assassinations directed primarily at the Taliban, ISIS-K “has grown more ambitious and aggressive,” according to Clemson University professor Amira Jadoon, launching an international, “multilingual propaganda campaign and expanding the types of attacks it conducts.” The Moscow terror attack is among ISIS-K’s deadliest and most hazardous operations to date.

“They’re a very vicious group of people, very radicalized with their radical version of Islamic faith,” Maginnis noted. “They’ve always had, like al-Qaeda, an interest in using weapons of mass destruction (WMD): chemical, biological, radiological instruments. … These things are very, very serious.”

Maginnis added that ISIS-K “would do everything they can to come to this country.” Even if they couldn’t bring a WMD to the U.S., he suggested they might “attack a nuclear facility, or they would let off some sort of bomb near a chemical site that would have a mass casualty impact.”

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Terror attacks perpetrated by ISIS-K have already resulted in the deaths of American citizens. This group was responsible for the 2021 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. servicemembers, among nearly 200 casualties. That terror attack occurred amid the chaos of America’s precipitous withdrawal from the country.

In fact, Maginnis said the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan is one reason why ISIS-K has expanded its reach. “With our departure, they had not only more equipment that the Taliban didn’t claim, but also more freedom of navigation,” he said.

General Frank McKenzie, former head of U.S. Central Command, offered a substantially similar analysis Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The threat is growing. It began to grow as soon as we left Afghanistan and took pressure off ISIS-K,” he warned. “We should expect further attempts of this nature against the United States as well as our partners and other nations abroad.”

U.S. Vulnerability to Attack

To Maginnis, this expectation of a radical Islamist terror attack heightens the urgency of securing the southern border. “With the open southern border, we’ve had many, many people that have crossed over that don’t have our best interests in mind,” he said. Even more concerning, many illegal border crossers evaded capture, leaving U.S. authorities “totally clueless on who they are, what their intentions are,” Hice added. “You would think those who sneak in … [are] probably here for nefarious reasons.”

ISIS-K “has a strong desire to attack our homeland. We should believe them when they say that they’re going to try to do it,” McKenzie declared. Maginnis agreed. “They would like to attack the ‘Great Satan,’ the United States, and will do everything possible to do that.”

Maginnis predicted that “there will be an effort by ISIS-K, which likely already has a number of its terrorists deeply embedded in the United States.” These terrorists “would like to use any mechanism of terror that they could,” he concluded. “There’s no doubt we’re vulnerable.”

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.