The Pakistani Taliban has pledged support for Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
On October 4, BBC reported that Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), directly addressed the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL) in a statement.
“We are proud of your conquests against the enemies. We are with you in good and bad times,” said the Pakistani Taliban leader.
“In these troubled days, we call on you to be patient and stay united as your enemies are now united against you,” he added.
“Forget rivalries,” continued Fazlullah.
Early this year, core Al Qaeda cut ties with its onetime associate ISIS.
TTP’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State could signal a change at least by some al Qeada affiliates.
Islamic State militants have seized large areas in Syria and Iraq, but they have also been battling rival jihadists linked to al Qaeda in the process.
TTP “maintains close ties to senior al-Qa’ida leaders, including al-Qa’ida’s former head of operations in Pakistan,” according to the National Terrorism Center (NTC).
TTP fighters have been known to cross the Pakistan border into Afghanistan and fight against U.S.-led international forces. Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of harboring TTP fighters.
The NTC describes TTP as “an alliance of militant groups formed in 2007 to unify groups fighting against the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan” along the Afghan border with Pakistan.
“TTP leaders also hope to impose a strict interpretation of Qur’anic instruction throughout Pakistan and to expel [U.S.-led] Coalition troops from Afghanistan,” adds the NTC description.
The TTP statement mentioned in the BBC article added that ISIS should expect support from the international Muslim community who would “stand by you in these tough times and help with what we can”.
According to Shaimaa Khalil, a BBC correspondent in Islamabad, “There has been little evidence so far of an agreement between IS and the Pakistani Taliban.”
Nevertheless, Khalil noted that Islamic State sympathizers have “been spotted in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar distributing pamphlets praising the group.”
Taliban allies in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been engaged in war since October 7, 2001, have claimed to be linked to Islamic State militants.
The statement from the Pakistani Taliban leader marked the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, the BBC noted.