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Asia’s terrorism surge: from Pakistan to Russia, Isis-K awakens sleeper cells – as Chinese interests come under fire

Using Afghanistan as their homebase and Turkey as a logistical centre, Isis cells have worked closely with various national and regional branches to pull off the murderous attacks on four countries this year.

Terrorism analysts told This Week in Asia that Isis-K had replaced the group’s decimated forces in Iraq and Syria as the point of its jihadist sword.

“All these attacks can be traced back in different ways” to Isis-K, said Riccardo Valle, director of research for The Khorasan Diary, an Islamabad-based security news and analysis platform focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It has been a “major player in galvanising supporters, if not orchestrating attacks abroad”, he said.

“Jihadists have aggressively sought to tap into resultant grievances to incite supporters to violence and direct external operations,” he said.

Isis-K has emerged as the “most globally-minded branch of Isis in its media and militant operations”, Webber said.

He said it is pursuing “a strategy of regionalisation and internationalisation in its propaganda, domestic targeting of foreign interests and nationals, as well as its external operations.”

The actions of Isis and other transnational groups based in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran – including al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and ethnic Baloch separatists who share the jihadists’ logistical networks – have deeply strained relations between the governments of the three countries.

Chinese nationals working at Pakistan’s southwestern port of Gwadar were also in the firing line of a Baloch separatist attack on the facility on March 21, with two soldiers being killed before the militants were eventually stopped in their tracks.

Gwadar port is Chinese-operated and serves as