On the opposite facet of the jihadist ledger is ISIS-Okay. The group is one in every of many associates that the Islamic State established after it swept into northern Iraq from Syria in 2014, and created a spiritual state or caliphate the scale of Britain. An American-led marketing campaign crushed the caliphate, however greater than 10,000 ISIS fighters stay in Iraq and Syria, and ISIS associates just like the Sahel or the Sinai Peninsula are thriving.

However ISIS-Okay has by no means been a serious pressure in Afghanistan, a lot much less globally, analysts say. The group’s ranks have dropped to about 1,500 to 2,000 fighters, about half from its peak ranges in 2016 earlier than American airstrikes and Afghan commando raids took a toll.

Since June 2020, nevertheless, underneath an bold new chief, Shahab al-Muhajir, the affiliate “stays lively and harmful,” and is looking for to swell its ranks with disaffected Taliban fighters and different militants, the U.N. report concluded.

“They haven’t been a first-tier ISIS affiliate, however with the Afghan commandos gone and the American navy gone, does that give them respiratory room? It may,” mentioned Seth G. Jones, an Afghanistan specialist on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research in Washington.

Even because the group’s total ranks have declined lately, Mr. Jones mentioned, ISIS-Okay has maintained cells of clandestine fighters who’ve carried out terrorist assaults.

United Nations counterterrorism officers mentioned within the June report that the Islamic State had carried out 77 assaults in Afghanistan within the first 4 months of this yr, up from 21 in the identical interval in 2020. The assaults final yr included a strike towards Kabul College in November and a rocket barrage towards the airport in Kabul a month later. ISIS-Okay is believed to have been chargeable for a faculty bombing within the capital that killed 80 schoolgirls in Might.

“Kabul has been the goal of the vast majority of ISIS-Okay’s most refined and complicated assaults up to now,” mentioned Abdul Sayed, a specialist on jihadist teams in Afghanistan and Pakistan based mostly in Lund, Sweden.