Former TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid. Naseer Azam—AFP
Shahidullah Shahid, former Pakistani Taliban spokesman, announces new Islamic State chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
An online video, purportedly showing dozens of former militants of the Pakistani Taliban pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and beheading a man they identified as a Pakistani soldier, has raised alarm bells over whether I.S. is tapping support within Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Released on Twitter and other jihadi websites on Saturday, the video shows influential former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and other militants passing through a rugged mountainous area on horseback, waving I.S. flags. Shahid already pledged allegiance to I.S. last October and was later sacked by the Pakistani Taliban.
“As you know, most of the attendees have pledged allegiance to the Caliphate before, and now we present a collective pledge of allegiance,” Shahid told the militants.
Shahid announced that commanders of 10 militant groups had chosen Hafiz Saeed Khan from Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency as the new I.S. head for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Saeed Khan was then seen taking a pledge of allegiance to I.S. leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The video also shows militants beheading a man in military uniform who they claimed was a Pakistan soldier. It was not clear where and when the video had been filmed nor could it be independently verified.
Leaflets calling for support for I.S. have been seen in parts of northwest Pakistan, and at least five Pakistani Taliban commanders and three lesser cadres from the Afghan Taliban have pledged their backing. Pro-I.S. slogans have also appeared on walls in several cities in both countries and in Kabul University, where a number of students were arrested.
Pakistan has strengthened its own offensive against the Taliban since their attack on a military-run school on Dec. 16 killed 150 people, 134 of them children.