Islamic State expands reach in Afghanistan, threatening West

The Islamic State group has lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq but is expanding its footprint in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.

There, the group is recruiting new fighters and plotting attacks in the United States and other Western countries. Nearly two decades after the U.S.-led invasion, the extremist group is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and abroad.

Concerns run so deep that many have come to see the Taliban, who have also clashed with IS, as a potential partner in containing it.

A U.S. intelligence official based in Afghanistan says recent attacks in Kabul are “practice runs” for even bigger attacks in Europe and the United States.