Pentagon official warns ISIS-K could be able to attack US in six months

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A top Pentagon official warned that the group known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) could be able to attack the United States in six months. 

Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that both ISIS-K and al Qaeda have the intent to conduct “external operations, including against the United States.” Neither group currently has the capability to do so.

“We could see ISIS-K generate that capability in somewhere between six and twelve months,” Kahl said. “I think the current assessments by the intelligence community is that al Qaeda would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability.”

The timeline is slightly faster than previous estimates; late last month, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said that al Qaeda or ISIS could reconstitute by early spring 2022.

“It’s a real possibility in the not too distant future, six, 12, 18, 24, 36 months, that kind of time frame, for reconstitution of al Qaeda or ISIS,” Milley said at the time

The Taliban rapidly took over Afghanistan in mid-August, and the U.S. officially withdrew from the country on Aug. 31, ending America’s longest conflict.

During the withdrawal, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s international airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 Afghans — the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in a decade.

ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings over the past few weeks, most recently claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing outside a Shiite mosque in the Kandahar province that left 47 people dead. 

The Taliban are considered enemies of ISIS-K, Kahl noted, and they are “highly motivated” to go after ISIS-K.

“It is our assessment that the Taliban and ISIS-K are mortal enemies,” Kahl said. “So the Taliban is highly motivated to go after ISIS-K. Their ability to do so, I think, is to be determined.”

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