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IS announced India branch

20 May, 2019

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The recent announcement by the self-described ‘Islamic State’ to establish ‘Pakistan province’ is an attempt to convince their frustrated militants as its ‘Islamic State Khorasan Province’ or ISKP is at the verge of collapse, two Pakistani militants.

Days earlier, the ISIS, also known as Daesh, has also announced its India branch.

The announcement came nearly three weeks after the group released a video of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for the first time in five year.

Although Baghdadi’s whereabouts are still a mystery, a sympathizer of Afghan Taliban says the clothes Baghdadi and others wear and the cushions in room where he appears in the 18-minute video have been the style of foreign militants in Afghanistan. It could also be an attempt by Daesh to create confusion about the hideout of Baghdadi. Two Pakistani militants played down the Daesh announcement of establishing Pakistan province.

A Pakistani Taliban leader, who lived in eastern Afghanistan where Daesh had also sanctuaries, said it’s claim of Pakistan province is just a ‘morale boosting’ attempt by the remnants of Daesh that the group has another option as it faces lots of problem in Khorasan. “Daesh fighters are frustrated and many have surrendered to the Afghan authorities. The group’s leadership has realised that presently they do not have a strong organisational structure to help fighters. Daesh leaders now want to give some courage to their fighters that they have an area for existence/shelter and that could be Pakistan and India province,” the leader, who has served on senior positions of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

“My information is that Daesh currently does not have strength/power/capability to create a province in Pakistan,” he further said, adding he believes some TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants have joined the group and helped them in some attacks in Balochistan. “They could carry out some activities in Pakistan to show their existence but this does not mean they are strong like they had been in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq,” he said.

When asked about the IS’ present position in Afghanistan, he said the group has not yet been eliminated completely in Afghanistan and their militants routinely move from one area to another. “Announcement of Pakistan province is an attempt to reduce their frustration and to give some courage to their militants,” the Taliban leader said, requesting anonymity.

A Jamaat-ul-Ahrar official has similar opinion about Daesh. He said section of the Western media ‘exaggerated’ the Daesh announcement about new provinces and that the group has also violated its own principles of provinces. “They (Daesh) had a principle that a province will be announced when they have thousands of active members and a specific quantity of weapons. Their activities in Pakistan are no more significant and even their claims about attacks are almost false,” he said.

He said majority of Afghans are now part of Daesh who have now moved to the mountainous areas in Kunar from Nangarhar, parts of which had been their control or influence over the past few years.

Previously the US, Afghan officials as well as the Afghan Taliban would say that about 70 percent of the Daesh militants are Pakistani nationals, mostly from Orakzai tribal district.

The Ahrar official said hundreds of Daesh militants, including Pakistani nationals, have surrendered to the Afghan government and many others have been killed in US drone attacks and ground operations in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

A Pakistan Taliban leader, Hafiz Saeed Khan, who was killed in a US drone attack in eastern Afghanistan in July 2016, was the first leader formally appointed as leader of the ISKP by Baghdadi. Dozens of Pakistani Taliban later switched loyalties to IS after Saeed Khan parted ways with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in 2014.

Abu Saad Erhabi, another chief of IS in Afghanistan, was killed in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan, along with nine other militants. Erhabi was the brother of Hafiz Saeed Khan, according to the militants.

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