The post-attack investigation led to the arrests of the attack mastermind Saad Aziz and his associates—Hafiz Rashid and Tahir Minhas—who were university graduates and belonged to middle and upper middle class families. The cell was involved in the propagation of IS ideology on social media, and also sent 14 aspiring jihadists to Syria. Jihadists from Afghanistan and Pakistan have been travelling to Syria since to participate in the Syrian civil war.
The Pakistani Taliban established their camp in Syria in Initially, 12 trainers from the Pakistani Taliban having expertise in bomb-making and information technology moved to Syria. Later, fresh recruits from different parts of the country joined them. Ghazi was killed in a military operation later that year. He had defected to IS in March along with eight other leaders.
Initially, ISK spread its tentacles to nine districts of Nangarhar, but its presence has now been reduced to three districts Achin, Deh Bala and Chaparhar. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, ISK has no significant organizational presence. However, as mentioned above, isolated supporters—self-radicalised cells and individuals—are present in urban centres of the country, such as Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot and Hyderabad. Retrospectively, the first signs of a cell working for IS in Afghanistan and Pakistan surfaced in September , with the appearance of pro-IS slogans and distribution of propaganda literature in different parts of the two countries.
In Pakistan, IS has focused on recruiting university students and professionals engineers, doctors, lawyers, journalists and businessmen along with using females for fundraising. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan IS has recruited from existing militant groups, and in launched a radio station in eastern parts of the country to attract new recruits.
It encouraged youth to find a sense of direction in their lives by joining the group. Chronologically, there has been a non-linear progression of IS in Afghanistan and Pakistan in four phases. In the first phase, IS promoted its brand of global Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadist ideology and propagated its extremist worldview through distribution of online propaganda material, pamphlets and booklets.
For instance, in September , IS supporters distributed a pamphlet entitled Fatah Victory in Peshawar and bordering areas of Afghanistan.
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In the second phase, the would-be radicals were encouraged to perform the so-called hijrah migration to IS-controlled territories. The third phase involved declaring the Wilayat Khurasan and establishing a sanctuary in eastern Afghanistan to further expedite the recruitment process and impart militant training to fighters for future attacks. The fourth and current phase has been aimed at mustering enough manpower and operational strength to carry out large-scale attacks both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Af-Pak jihadist groups have responded to IS efforts to spread its tentacles in the region in three broad ways: a renewing commitment to old ideologies and rejecting IS; b jumping on the IS bandwagon; or c adopting a hedging attitude.
The hadith Ghazwa-e-Hind contains a prophecy of a great battle towards the End of Times in the Indian sub-continent between true believers and non-believers. Meanwhile, the IS approach to jihad centres around the idea of holding territory—i. Strategically, Al-Qaeda favours a gradualist approach to jihad by preparing society to accept its version of the Islamic state. In theory, Al-Qaeda supports a caliphate—but as a long-term goal. In other words, the creation of a caliphate is an end-point of the jihadist struggle for Al-Qaeda, while it is the starting point for IS. Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban has a limited focus confined to Islamization of Afghanistan.
The jihadist movement has categorically maintained having no ambitions outside Afghanistan. The rise of IS transiently disturbed the jihadist landscape in Afghanistan and Pakistan. TTP disowned those commanders and splinter groups that pledged allegiance to IS. If your meddling in their affairs creates division, it will result in bloodshed within these organizations. In October , the Afghan Taliban also constituted a special task force comprising of well-equipped 1, fighters to avert further defections to IS.
The fighters allocated to this unit were better trained than regular Taliban, and their sole aim was to crush IS. Al-Qaeda exploited local issues, such as the oppression of Muslims in the Indian-administered Kashmir and in Myanmar to counter IS influence.
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On the other hand, IS offered the same audience its so-called caliphate model as a solution to oppression. Al-Qaeda has been trying to keep its preponderant position as the vanguard of the global jihadist movement in the Af-Pak region intact, while IS effort is focused on making a larger impact in the region. IS, on the other hand, relies on its brand popularity as a tool to win loyalties of the local jihadists. The two major hurdles in the way of jihadists eager to join IS were bayah oath of loyalty to Mullah Umar and aqeedah faith, as most of Afghan Taliban are Deobandi-Hanafis while IS followers are followers of the Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadist ideology.
However, the death of Mullah Umar freed them of their bayah to him. He was only our jihadi Ameer [leader] and not a Khalifa caliph.
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We do not know where Mullah Omar is. We have not heard that he considers himself as Ameer. No one has ever asked us to declare Mullah Omar as our Ameer.
The more ambitious younger generation of the jihadists termed the Afghan Taliban as a political group using Islam as a cover to restore their government toppled in Afghanistan by the US invasion in A third category consists of opportunistic militants. More particularly, it has attempted to leverage its position within the broader competition between IS and al-Qaeda. For now, it is likely that JuA will keep its independent identity intact by giving mixed signals to both IS and Al-Qaeda, but not siding with either group completely. The group has shown resilience and regenerative capacity.
For instance, on 8 August , ISK claimed the suicide bombing of a hospital in Quetta that left as many as 70 people dead and others injured. ISK has displayed a similar strength in Afghanistan through a series of high-profile attacks in different parts of the country.
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For instance, the 13 January attack on the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad 7 killed [ ], the 23 July attack in Kabul, targeting Hazara Shia protesters[ ] 80 killed, injured and the 8 March assault on the military hospital in Kabul 30 killed, 50 injured are indication of its outreach and operational strength. At the same time, IS has found an ideological niche among the radicalized youth of urban areas.
First, it has shaken the existing jihadist landscape, making it more complex, violent, and polarised. Second, while IS has not succeeded in challenging the traditional jihadist groups in the Af-Pak region, the competition has negatively affected regional security. Third, the IS model has provided the new generation of jihadists with an alternative option. The Afghan Taliban is seen as a political rather than an Islamic force.
However, Al-Qaeda is not a spent force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With the exception of aforementioned defections, the majority of militant groups in the region still support Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
asia.userengage.io/15936.php Unlike IS, which has attracted foreign fighters from across the world to fill its ranks in Iraq and Syria, Al-Qaeda prefers working with local fighters on behalf of local issues. It will be difficult for IS to penetrate the veteran jihadist entities, like the Kashmiri jihadi groups, the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani counter-parts. However, the splintered and disillusioned fighters and leaders of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban may gravitate towards IS in future.
The Af-Pak militant landscape has become more complicated, divisive, and a highly contested domain with the emergence of IS. IS has the ability to universalise individual grievances of the educated youth of urban areas with its global Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadist narrative, and offers putative solutions in a collective setting.
This has allowed the group to transcend the barriers of language, culture and geography. The onset of social media has decreased the distance between local and global developments along with accelerating the flow of information. New militant leaders—like the mastermind of the attack on the Ismaili Shia community in Karachi, Saad Aziz—escaped the gaze of security surveillance due to their lesser-known militant past. Moreover, the neutralization of one cell does not affect the working of other cells given their discreet and disconnected nature.
This has made counter-terrorism policing and surveillance an uphill task. After the bulk of foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of , the Af-Pak region has become a recruiting pool for IS. Tillerson noted that IS is stepping up its recruitment of young people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, IS not only excommunicates the Shias but it also apostatizes the Sunni groups who do not follow its extremist version of Salafi Islam.
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