Shahidullah Shahid and five senior Pakistani Taliban commanders have pledged support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and five other militant commanders on Tuesday pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—more commonly known as ISIL—in a statement issued to media.
“From today, I accept Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as my Caliph and will accept every directive of his and will fight for him whatsoever the situation,” the TTP spokesman said in a video message posted online. He said the announcement of allegiance had been issued by him in a personal capacity and did not represent the views of the TTP or its leader, Mullah Fazlullah. He said that while TTP chief Mullah Fazullah supported al-Baghdadi, he had not accepted him as his Caliph.
Introducing himself as a teacher of slain TTP chiefs Baitullah and Hakeemullah Mehsud, Shahid said he had been one of the first members of the Pakistani Taliban. He said the video message was the fourth time he had pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State.
“The first time, I pledged allegiance through Abu Tasur al-Ardani; the second time, I announced it in the holy month of Ramzan through Abu al-Huda Sudani, and asked him to inform al-Baghdadi of my loyalties; the third time I pledged allegiance during a phone call with Abu Omar al-Shami; I am now announcing it for a fourth time for the media,” he added.
Shahid said the Quran made it mandatory for Muslims to follow their Caliph and also requested Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to accept him as a follower.
The five militant commanders who have also pledged allegiance to Islamic State are Saeed Khan, the TTP chief in Orakzai Agency; Hafiz Quran Dolat, the TTP chief in Kurram Agency; Gul Zaman, the TTP chief in Khyber Agency; Mufti Hassan, the TTP chief in Peshawar; and Khalid Mansoor, the TTP in Hangu.
I.S., which controls land in Syria and Iraq, has been gathering support in South Asia, and there are reports of Pakistani and Afghan fighters joining their efforts in the Middle East. Earlier this month, the TTP spokesman had announced that the militant group fully supported I.S. and “would provide you with mujahideen.”
The announcement followed Al Qaeda’s decision to establish a new branch in South Asia, aimed at establishing a foothold in India and Bangladesh.