Islamic State Khorasan Province and its significance to India

The allies of both Al Qaeda and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) are Pakistani jihadist groups that want to extend their influence beyond Hindukush to Kashmir.

Afghanistan is now being ruled by the Ultra-Orthodox Taliban regime. The Taliban adheres to a harsh interpretation of Sharia or Islamic law. However, in Afghanistan, there is another radical Islamic organization known as Islamic State Khorasan Province or the ISKP. The ISKP and Taliban have been sworn enemies and have clashed a number of times in the past. The ISKP was responsible for the devastating bomb blast at the Hamid Karzai airport last month which killed more than 160 people.  The group has an even more sinister vision and it has a bigger implication for India.

Khorasan which means ‘The Rising Sun’

To understand Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), one would have to go back to the history of the region. The ‘Khorasan’ is referred to in history as the region which includes parts of Iran. However, the boundaries of Khorasan changed according to the political rulers. However, most historians agree that Khorasan which means ‘The Rising Sun’ lies in modern-day Iran. The concept of Greater Khorasan was always talked about but the borders never extended beyond Balkh into the district known as Turkharistan (roughly analogous to ancient Bactria) according to historian Elton L. Daniel in his book, ‘The political and social history of Khorasan under Abbasid rule, 747-820’ (1979).

In modern times Khorasan was adopted by Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden and in 1996 Afghanistan became the base for the ultimate realization of a Caliphate which would incorporate Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the central Asian republics and the whole of North India and also Russia.

Jihadi Group Allies Want To Extend Influence Beyond Hindukush

Both Al Qaeda and ISKP had no connection with Khorasan province and Khorasan frontiers never extended beyond Hindukush. However, the allies of both Al Qaeda and ISKP are Pakistani jihadist groups that want to extend their influence beyond Hindukush to Kashmir. They don’t have any interest in Arab affairs. In an interview with Dr Amin Tarzi, Director of Middle Eastern Studies at Marine Corps University explained that these groups are trying to gain political and theological gains by harping on the significance of Khorasan.

Al Qaeda chooses the Khorasan region to establish the Islamic Caliphate. Even though ISIS and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) are similar but there are stark differences. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) dreams of setting up an Islamic Caliphate whose boundaries extend from present-day Iran to North India.  Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) wants to redraw the maps to the pre-1747 makeup. When Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden proclaimed his safe refuge in ‘Khorasan’, it also referred to the theological aspect of hadiths (traditions or sayings of the Prophet) that associated the region with future events. It is for this reason Al Qaeda chose to represent itself with a black flag with, ‘Talai ‘i Khorasan’ which translates as Vanguard of Khorasan detailing the qualities and implications of Khorasan in Islamic thought.

The rise of Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has implications for India since it regards large parts of India as parts of Khorasan. The fighters of Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) are more radicalized and devoted and will constitute a big threat in future.

Feature Image: By Cplakidas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,