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Pakistan Taliban leaders switch to Islamic State

The defections demonstrate rifts within the Pakistani Taliban.

By Ed Adamczyk
Pakistan Taliban leaders switch to Islamic State
Flag of Pakistani Taliban CC/ wikimedia.org/ Arnold Platon

PESHWAR, Pakistan, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Six prominent Pakistani Taliban leaders are featured in a video, released Tuesday, in which they pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

Among the defectors is Shahidullah Shahid, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) spokesman. In the 6 1/2-minute video, he says, "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." He then announces he and five high-ranking regional TTP leaders, from the cities of Peshawar and Hangu, and the tribal regions of Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber, have defected to the IS.

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The move highlights ideological rifts in the TTP, as well as other militant Islamist groups, as the profile of IS rises. TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah expressed support for all Islamist groups currently fighting in Iraq and Syria earlier this month, but continued his allegiance to the Afghan Taliban. He has not yet declared a formal alliance with IS.

The TTP is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States, and is aligned with al-Qaida.

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