Afghan President Warns of ‘Terrible Threat’ From Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, warned U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday of the “terrible threat” the Islamic State poses in Asia, and said the terrorist group is already sending fighters to his country.

In a speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Ghani said Afghanistan owes a “profound debt” to the thousands of U.S. troops killed and wounded in the war that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ghani, who became president last year, has been feted in Washington during a five-day trip to the United States seeking to repair ties frayed under his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.

His address came as Congress debates defense spending and other areas of the U.S. budget. Lawmakers also are considering President Barack Obama’s request for authorization of his military campaign against Islamic State, which has met stiff resistance on Capitol Hill.

“Daesh (Islamic State) is already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan to test for vulnerabilities,” Ghani said.

He said Afghanistan, whose Taliban government sheltered al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, would never again host terrorists. He urged all Muslims to speak out against extremism.

“Silence is not acceptable,” he said.

As Ghani visited Washington, six people were killed in a suicide bombing near his palace in Kabul, which is on high alert ahead of the expected Taliban spring offensive.