LADHA: Six leading militants of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, including its spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, have announced their allegiance to Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, the chief of the Islamic State (IS), formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham.

Besides Shahidullah, they are chiefs of TTP’s Orakzai Agency Saeed Khan, Kurram Agency Daulat, Khyber Agency Fateh Gul Zaman, Peshawar Mufti Hassan and Hangu Khalid Mansoor.

The announcement does not mean that they have quit the TTP. They will continue to lead the banned outfit in their areas and abide by the orders of Taliban leadership.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, Shahidullah pledged “allegiance to Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi” and said he would “abide by all his decisions ... whatever the circumstances I shall be loyal to him and obey his directives”.

He said this decision by the six had nothing to do with the TTP or its chief Maulana Fazlullah.

According to the statement in Urdu and Arabic, the TTP chief has also extended his support to the IS, but has not pledged his allegiance to Al-Baghdadi.

Shahidullah himself had earlier extended his support to the IS on three occasions, but now he and his associates announced their allegiance to Al-Baghdadi.

The first time he extended support to Al-Baghdadi well before the latter’s announcement of Khilafat, the second time in Ramazan through Abu Huda Sudani and the third time through Abu Al-Khitab Shami by telephone.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2014

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