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Pakistani Taliban Split Emerges Over IS Loyalties

A member of the Islamic State militant group in Raqqa, Syria.
A member of the Islamic State militant group in Raqqa, Syria.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman has reaffirmed his allegiance to Islamic State militants and said five other Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders have also declared loyalty to IS.

Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid’s October 14 announcement indicates a split between three main factions that comprise the TTP umbrella group.

It comes after Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah distanced himself from earlier declarations by Shahid that TTP fighters would fight alongside IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

Shahid insisted on October 14 that he and the five other Pakistani Taliban field commanders have declared loyalty to the Islamic State militants.

He said they are Taliban commanders in the tribal regions of Orakzai, Kurram, and Khyber as well as the frontier region of Peshawar and the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province.

Shahid also clarified that Fazlullah, the TTP leader, has not declared allegiance to the IS militants.

Fazlullah has expressed sympathy for any group that wages jihad.

But he has appeared wary of IS militants, whose ambitions have little to do with South Asia or the TTP’s goals in Pakistan.