Peshawar: In a move that can cause a rift within the militant circles, six senior members of the Pakistani Taliban, including prominent regional leaders vowed to support the Islamic State (IS) militants and its head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a media report said on Tuesday.
Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement that he along with five Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) district chiefs have announced their allegiance to IS, and would lead their fighters in Pakistan, Dawn reported.
“I pledge allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims…Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said the spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.
The announcement by the six Pakistani militant leaders further underscores ideological divisions among militant Islamist groups as Islamic State rises.
Earlier this month, Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, expressed support for all Islamist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, but said he continued to pledge allegiance to the leader of the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as the TTP, is designated a terrorist organisation by the US. It is allied with al Qaeda, and operates mainly in Pakistan’s loosely-governed northwestern tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.
The TTP has been beset by bitter internal rivalries over the past year, with the influential Mehsud tribal faction of the group refusing to accept the authority of Fazlullah, who came to power in late 2013.