Photo: The Greater Khorasan 



On March 22, 2024, the concert hall of the Crocus, Moscow, was attacked by an armed group, as the result of the operation, 133 people were killed most of them as a result of smoke inhalation caused by the throwing of incendiary bombs. After the world’s cameras turned on the incident and it became global, Moscow accused the West, especially the United States, of the incident, and especially the incident occurred after Russia voted in favor of Palestine in the security council against Israel. But not long after, an armed terrorist group called the Islamic State adopted the offensive Khorasan Province, which sparked controversy around the world and brought to the surface once again the danger of terrorist groups to global security. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province is considered one of the most prominent symbols of terrorism at the regional and global levels. It is one of the main branches of ISIS. This essay indicates several aspects concerning the emergence of the group, its regional and global influence, the ideology of the group, and its strategic goals. and what could be the ideal ways to confront extremism.

Brief overview of the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK)

In 2014, when ISIS was at the height of its power, it sent several of its representatives to Pakistan to meet with local fighters, including the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. They met with a number of the leaders of the organization there, and distributed leaflets in local languages about the definition of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and urged Residents of these areas to join the organization. One month later, the former Taliban leader Abdul Raouf Khadim visited Iraq and met with ISIS leaders. After he returned, he recruited followers of the movement in Helmand and Farah provinces. Moreover that number of Taliban leaders defected and joined ISIS, and in 2015 a video clip showed these six pledging allegiance to ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They nominated Hafez Saeed Khan to lead their group. They were joined by mid-level warrior commanders including representatives from Logar and Kunar provinces and from Pakistan’s Lakki Marwat. Islamic State Khorasan Province claimed that some other fighters from both countries supported the pledge of allegiance but were unable to attend the meeting in person. Later, members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other militants from Central Asia joined the newly formed group. As a “province” of the Islamic State’s foundation, the organization aims to control Central Asia and South Asia under the banner of the self-declared caliphate, the Khorasan Province. The Islamic State’s propaganda programs published a map showing the Khorasan region extending from Kazakhstan in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south, and from eastern Iran in the west to western China in the east. It is one of the most active regional organizations affiliated with ISIS, and the number of its members has witnessed a decline since recording its highest levels in approximately 2018. The Taliban and American forces inflicted heavy losses on the organization. The United States said that its ability to increase intelligence activity against armed groups in Afghanistan, such as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, has declined since the withdrawal of US forces from the country in 2021.

Ideological Foundations of ISK

The group’s ideology goes back to what is called Salafism Jihadism, which is one of the extremist ideologies of the Sunni movements. The origin of the idea has first risen in Saudi Arabia, where supporters of this doctrine exploited some of the Islamic heritage, and called that only these texts are the origin of Islam, and that all Muslims must submit to their influence. If anyone disagrees with them or disputes with them about this, then their blood and their wealth are worthless. Unlike most Muslims in the world, these extremist Salafist Jihadi groups do not believe in peaceful coexistence and acceptance of different opinions. They reject the secular state, they do not believe in democracy, and consider it a blasphemy. They call for the establishment of a state based on a sub-idea of Salafism, which in turn is part of the Islamic religion. They target all sects and followers of Islamic and non-Islamic beliefs, such as Shiites and other sects in Islam, such as moderate Islam, Sufism, or Islamic parties. ISK’s extremist ideology also includes an apocalyptic narrative these groups see themselves as the main defenders of Islam, and these ideas explain the barbaric actions they carry out, and also make them anathema to individuals who hold a faith close to them. One thing unites all those who hold extremist beliefs, which is the skill in using media and technology. They know modernity well and benefit greatly from it. Obviously, through the various platforms available to them, they spread their ideas around the world. What is interesting is that there are press investigations indicating that some Western intelligence agencies are helping to spread these ideas to extremist Islamists in the West, so that they will be influenced by them and migrate from their countries to join these groups, thus getting rid of them with minimal effort. Unfortunately, this has greatly helped the spread of extremist ideas around the world.

The Regional Impact of the ISK

Since its inception, the group has had a great influence on the regional areas, as the group knows itself as Khorasan, and by that they mean the regions of north-western Afghanistan, parts of southern Turkmenistan, and the current Khorasan province in Iran, but the group’s influences and operations goes beyond that, with affected areas in Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, and even some of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They challenge the security services and governments. In Afghanistan, ISK has targeted civilians and official governmental entities, they conducted several attacks, one of the most dangerous attacks took place on 20 October 2017, a suicide attack took place in a Shia mosque in western Kabul killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 64. Among those killed were 6 children under the age of 12 and four women. Likewise, in Pakistan, the Islamic State was responsible for several attacks across the country, including one that occurred in 2017 in a religious shrine, which led to the death of more than one civilian and the injury of hundreds of innocent people. As is the case with most terrorist groups, they are joined by members from all over the world, thus adding an international dimension to the fighting. Also with this diversity comes different experiences and capabilities from which these groups benefit greatly, and sometimes even university professors join these groups. Specialists in science and technology, and this very point is one of the most important strengths of terrorist groups.

What can be done to reduce extremism?

Extremism cannot be uprooted from its sources because it is part of the nature of some people, but there are several ways and mechanisms that can prevent these ideas from spreading significantly. In the first place, education would play a significant impact on the spread of these ideas. Paying attention to critical thinking and making an effort to come up with a high-quality educational system helps a lot that invalidates unstable/extreme currents. Through education, generations of people can be taught high human and worldly values, respect for the opinion of others, and acceptance of the differences in society After that, it is very important to take care of the rights of the different classes and sects prevalent in the society, and give them all the rights and privileges they deserve, so that the collective mind of none of the different groups in society does not feel deprived, and thus take revenge on the authority, society, and society that oppressed and prevented their affirmation. And in third place, it comes the task of enabling law and the security. Thus, the intelligence services in the state to make every effort to prevent the spread of these ideas, but this must take into account the rule of law and the preservation of human rights. The role of the security services can be pivotal in maintaining the security and safety of society through information. The intelligence services of the state can precede all these groups and stop them before they appear.


Jazeera, A. (2017, February 17). Army kills ‘100 terrorists’ after Sehwan shrine blast. Al Jazeera.

Eggink, K. (n.d.). ICCT Snapshot: Islamic State – Khorasan Province. International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – ICCT.

غايدي, م. (2024, March 25). تبنى هجوم موسكو.. ماذا نعرف عن تنظيم “داعش- خراسان”؟.

العربية. (2024, March 23). داعش خراسان.. ما هي أهدافه ولماذا يهاجم موسكو؟. العربية.

برنامج مكافحة الارهاب والتطرف – المركز العربي الأوربي لحقوق الانسان والقانون الدولي. (n.d.).


Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this analysis are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MEPEI. Any content provided by our authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

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About the author:

Mr. Rozh MARIF

Mr. Rozh MARIF is an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Sulaimani. Founder of the Young Leaders group and the co-founder of the Panjara Podcast. Volunteer with the National Democratic Institute. Iraq

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