The governments of Washington, the United Kingdom, and Australia urged their citizens in the area to avoid approaching or staying at the air terminal five days before the deadline agreed with the extremists who took power in Afghanistan.
As desperate Afghans try to board a flight out of the Kabul airport and flee the Taliban, authorities are warning of another jihadist threat: the Islamic State group of the Khorasan, known by its acronym ISIS-K.
US President Joe Biden said an "acute and growing risk" of attack at the group's regional branch airport. As a result, the United States, Great Britain, and Australia asked their citizens to avoid the area near the airport and seek safe places.
When asked directly about the threat, a Taliban spokesman acknowledged the risk of "nuisance" causing problems in the chaotic situation, which he attributed to the US-led evacuation.
What is the Islamic State-Khorasan?
Months after ISIS declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, fighters from the Pakistani Taliban joined militants in Afghanistan to form a regional chapter. They pledged allegiance to the extremist leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
The group was formally recognized by the central ISIS leadership the year after it settled in northeastern Afghanistan, in the Kunar, Nangarhar, and Nuristan provinces.
According to UN monitors, he also established cells in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Kabul.
According to a UN Security Council report released in July, the latest estimates of their strength range from thousands of active fighters to 500.
"Khorasan" is a historical name for a region that includes parts of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
What kind of attack does it do?
ISIS Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in recent years.. It has massacred civilians in both countries in mosques, shrines, squares, and hospitals.
Last year he was blamed for a world-shaking attack when shooters opened fire in the maternity ward of a hospital in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Kabul, killing 16 mothers and pregnant women.
Beyond the bombings and massacres, ISIS-Khorasan has failed to control any territory in the region and has suffered heavy losses in US and Taliban military operations.
According to UN and the United States assessments, ISIS-K currently operates mainly in covert cells based in or near cities to carry out high-profile attacks.
¿Cuál es la relación de ISIS-K con los talibanes?
Aunque los dos grupos son militantes islámicos sunitas de línea dura, también son rivales y difieren en detalles sobre religión y estrategia, y cada uno dice ser el verdadero estandarte de la yihad.
Esos diferendos han provocado enfrentamientos sangrientos, de los cuales los talibanes han emergido generalmente victoriosos desde 2019, cuando ISIS-Khorasan fue incapaz de afianzarse en un territorio como lo hizo su grupo pariente en Oriente Medio.
In a sign of the enmity between the jihadist groups, ISIS communiqués refer to the Taliban as apostates.
How has ISIS-K taken the Taliban victory in Afghanistan?
Nothing good. The Islamic State has been criticizing an agreement reached between Washington and the Taliban last year that led to the withdrawal of foreign troops, accusing them of abandoning the jihadist cause.
After the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, various jihadist groups worldwide congratulated them, but not ISIS.
A comment by the group published after the fall of Kabul accused the Taliban of betraying the jihadists with the agreement with Washington and promised to continue their fight, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the communications of militant groups.
What is the threat at the Kabul airport?
Authorities from the United States and other Western countries have warned that the Kabul airport, with thousands of American soldiers surrounded by vast crowds of desperate Afghans, is threatened by ISIS-Khorasan.
Neither country has provided specific details of the threat. However, "ISIS-K is a sworn enemy of the Taliban, and they have a history of fighting each other," Biden said Sunday.
But every day when we have troops, these innocent soldiers and civilians at the airport face the threat of ISIS attack," he added.
In recent days, some soldiers who have left the Kabul airport have seen flashing launches that are often used to attract heat-sensing missiles.