The bombing that killed 72 people in Pakistan on Sunday is the latest troubling sign that ISIS has established a dangerous presence in a country long considered an al Qaeda stronghold, NBC News reported.
The violent Pakistani Taliban offshoot known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar — which boasted that it targeted Christians in a crowded park in Lahore — once publicly declared support for ISIS. Now it's the subject of an intensive crackdown in the world's second-most populous and only nuclear-armed Muslim nation.
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News they believe Jamaat-ul-Ahrar was responsible for the brazen attack.
No immediate links between the bombing and the Islamic State have emerged, but two U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that Washington and Islamabad are concerned about indirect connections between ISIS and Sunday's atrocity and other terrorist acts in the past year.
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News they have uncovered significant evidence that ISIS was recruiting heavily in Pakistan before Jan. 10, 2015, when it announced the formation of the Islamic State Khorasan.