The Islamic State group in Afghanistan is a “very worrisome” danger to the United States, and U.S. counterterrorism efforts have yet to shrink its extremist ambitions , a senior American general claimed Wednesday.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie claimed IS would be hard pressed, but, to execute an attack on the U.S. homeland since it is under strong military pressure.
“ISIS in Afghanistan surely has aspirations to attack the United States,” McKenzie claimed. “It is our very clear judgment that so long as we keep up pressure on them it is going to be hard for them to do that.”
McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command with accountability for handling American military operations across the greater Middle East, spoke in Germany with reporters returning home with him from an eight-day trip that took him to Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. He also spent two days aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea.
Previously this week, the Associated Press cited U.S. and Afghan security officials In reporting that the Islamic State group in Afghanistan is enlarging its footprint, finding new recruits for new fighters and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries.
McKenzie, a veteran of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, claimed he thinks IS in Afghanistan has not extended its capabilities however continues to be a big problem.
“They are very worrisome to us” in their strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, he declared, adding that battle operations have failed to reduce the group’s fighting ranks. Others have stated that they are decided to number in the thousands.
The Islamic State affiliate appeared in Afghanistan soon after the group’s core fighters swept across Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, carving out a self-styled Islamic empire in both countries. The Afghanistan affiliate describes itself as the Khorasan Province, a name applied to parts of Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia in the Middle Ages.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan are combatting the Islamic State group individually from their mission of advising and helping Afghan defense forces in their battle against the Taliban.
The Taliban and IS are sharply split over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces. The Taliban and IS have fought each other on a number of instances, and the Taliban are still the larger and more prominent force.