An Afghan border policeman escorts a detained suspected Taliban fighter in Afghanistan's Paktika Province, near the border with Pakistan, November 2012.

For over a year, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has been attempting to expand into South Asia. ISIS has developed a loose organizational structure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided money to local groups, and adopted a confrontational approach to the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda—all on al Qaeda’s home turf, no less. Its goal is straightforward: to co-opt disaffected local militants in an effort to build influence and power in the region.

ISIS in South Asia, which it calls the Islamic State of Khorasan, is larger than most recognize, boasting between several hundred and several thousand fighters. And its push into the subcontinent has led to numerous skirmishes with the Afghan Taliban, the largest and best-organized militant group in Afghanistan. In early June, for example, ISIS and Taliban fighters engaged in pitched battles in Shinwar, Achin, and other districts in Nangarhar province.

A policeman at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Afghanistan's Farah Province, February 2015. 
Despite these developments, some

To read the full article

  • SETH G. JONES is Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, and Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies. He is the author, most recently, of Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa’ida since 9/11 (Norton, 2012).
  • More By Seth G. Jones