PESHAWAR: Six top commanders of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, including spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, have announced their allegiance to Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State and an allegiance statement was also issued in this regard.

Shahidullah Shahid in the statement said he along with five TTP district chiefs have announced their allegiance to IS, also known as Daish, and would be their lead fighters in Pakistan.

The statement did not elaborate on the stance of the six on Mullah Omar, chief of the Afghan Taliban widely regarded by militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the Amirul Momineen (leader of the faithful).

“I am confirming my allegiance to Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi and would abide by all his decisions, whatever is the order, and whatsoever the circumstances, I shall be loyal to him and obey his orders,” Shaidullah Shahid said in a statement issued in Arabic and Urdu.

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Shahidullah said he along with TTP amir for Orakzai Agency Saeed Khan, TTP’s Kurram Agency chapter chief Daulat Khan, Fateh Gul Zaman, who heads TTP in Khyber Agency, TTP’s Peshawar amir Mufti Hassan and TTP’s Hangu chief Khalid Mansoor, was announcing allegiance to Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi Al Qureshi Al-Hussaini.

Shahidullah further said that the statement was on his and the five commanders’ behalf and had nothing to do with TTP.

He added that TTP chief Mullah Fazlluah had extended his support to Al-Baghdadi but had not announced allegiance to Daish. How will the decision of the six TTP commanders be viewed and taken by Fazlullah whose allegiance currently lies with Mullah Omar is still a matter of speculation but the announcement comes at a time when the outlawed group is already experiencing fissures and is the main target of a military operation in North Waziristan.

Shahidullah further said that he had already extended his allegiance three times to Al-Baghdadi and it was the fourth time that he and his associates were extending allegiance to the IS chief.

Shahidullah said he first announced support to Al-Bagdadi before the latter’s announcement of Khilafat, the second time in last Ramazan through Abu Huda Sudani, a third time through Abu Al-Khitab Shami through telephone and now again.

With the IS trying to make inroads into South Asia, there are concerns about further turmoil in the region.

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.

It moreover appears that IS, in an effort to extend its global reach, is aiming to exploit these rivalries to its advantage and wade into the region.

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