Pakistani Taliban Group Allegedly Joins ISIS
Despite its relative obscurity, TeK is known to have close ties with Al-Qaeda, and according to local sources it recently raised the ISIS flag in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
ISIS has captured vast areas of Iraq and Syria while its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been attempting to raise his public profile by giving public speeches in mosques around the region. ISIS was perceived as a potential rival to Al-Qaeda in the Middle East, but now they seem to have expanded to Central Asia.
There are over 200 militant groups active in Pakistan and its border region with Afghanistan. The majority of these groups have close ties or identify themselves with Al-Qaeda.
Local sources in Pakistan said TeK members were seen around the University of Punjab in Lahore, distributing fliers and pamphlets to students.
“They are an underground group and they seem to recruit smart students and indoctrinate them about their ideology and their mission of the expansion of the Caliphate in the region,” a source in Lahore said.
However, security experts and analysts believe that TeK’s move is insignificant.
TeK’s announcement declaring support to ISIS seems to be “just a stunt by some supporters of the Islamic state … [and] the impact of [their] statement is null” according to Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal. “[Afghanistan and Pakistan are] established Taliban territory, the Taliban are still in Al-Qaeda camp. It would have to be a major defection from Al-Qaeda top tier leadership in order for the Taliban [to join ISIS]”
But Roggio warned that “the longer the Islamic state holds to its gains in Iraq and Syria, the more of a chance for groups to defect.” This is a serious matter and threat not only to a country or a region but to stability and security of the global community.
Comparing the security situation and political stability of Afghanistan, Roggio said “the situation [in Afghanistan] will be even worse [after US withdrawal]… because we have a [neighboring] state, [Pakistan], that has been committed to the Taliban for three decades and it continues to shelter and support it.” And policies of Pakistan towards Afghanistan are “poisonous,” he added.
“Afghanistan has a less capable and smaller military in compared to Iraq,” he said, “which has trouble asserting itself behind the capital, [Kabul]. With the US withdrawing, the situation in Afghanistan will be worse than Iraq.”
It is clear that if the United States withdrawals from Afghanistan, the Central Asian nation will become vulnerable and defenseless against any security threats from across the border or from within. In addition to that if ISIS continues to gain popularity in the region, the region’s security and stability will be at stake.