The Khorasan unit of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had attempted a suicide attack in India last year but failed, PTI reported on Wednesday, citing an official from the United States of America. This unit of the terrorist Islamic group, formed in 2015, operates mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan but has now reportedly begun to branch out to other parts of South Asia.

“Of all of the branches and networks of ISIS, ISIS-K is certainly one of those of most concern, probably in the neighbourhood of 4,000 individuals or so,” Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Office of Director of National Intelligence, Russell Travers, said while speaking to some US lawmakers in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

When Indian-origin Senator Maggie Hassan asked about the Khorasan unit’s capability to carry out terror strikes outside Afghanistan, Travers said, “They have attempted to certainly inspire attacks outside of Afghanistan. They attempted last year to conduct a suicide attack in India. It failed.”

“I heard clearly that ISIS-K threatens not only US forces in Afghanistan, but also has designs on striking the US homeland,” Hassan, who had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan last month and spoken to members of the US military there, said. She added that the terror organisation is a major threat to America despite US’ victories against the outfit.

Travers said the Khorasan unit had tried to attack New York some years ago and failed, but they then attacked Stockholm in 2017, killing five people. “So they certainly have a desire and the propaganda would indicate that they want to conduct attacks outside of Afghanistan as far relatively limited,” he said.

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the US concentrated on externally-directed attacks on the US, Travers said. But 18 years later, we face a homegrown violent extremist threat, he added. “Almost 20 ISIS branches and networks that range from tens to hundreds to thousands of people, al-Qaeda and its branches and affiliates, foreign fighters that flocked to Iraq and Syria from well over 100 countries, Iran and its proxies, and there is a growing terrorist threat from racially and ethnically motivated extremists around the globe,” Travers added.

“This highlights the importance of terrorism prevention,” the official said, adding that there were more radicalised individuals than earlier. “While some aspects of the threat can only be dealt with through kinetic operations, the residents of the ideology will not be dealt with by military or law enforcement operations alone. The world has a lot of work to do in the non-kinetic realm to deal with radicalization and underlying causes.”

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