In March 2014, nine members of al-Qa`ida, who were active with the group in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, defected to the group that now calls itself the “Islamic State.”[1] The defections took place months before the Islamic State formally announced its Caliphate and at that time little public attention was given to the shift in allegiances of those al-Qa`ida men, despite one of them being the brother of famed jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.[2] The defections, at the time, seemed more like an outlier, but in hindsight they were an early sign of broader developments affecting Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s militant landscapes. The Islamic State’s formal declaration of its “Khorasan” chapter in January 2015 is another indicator of the changes that are taking place. These changes are being pushed by what currently appears to be a fairly loosely configured, but noteworthy, network of groups and individuals who are trying to alter the direction of South and Central Asia’s multiple jihads.

This article provides an overview, to the extent possible given the evolving and dynamic nature of this problem set, of the network of actors who are currently supporting the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK) in Afghanistan and Pakistan and are present there.[3] It concludes with an analysis of the opportunities and limitations that are likely to affect the actions and survivability of ISK over the short- to mid-term.

The Early Development of the Islamic State in Khorasan Network
Defining the ISK network is a difficult task. The network is dynamic and changes occur weekly, if not more frequently. The creation, spread, and development of the ISK network is also clouded in rumor and speculation, fanned by informational wars being waged by Islamic State supporters, the Afghan and Pakistani government, and their respective agents. The number of militant groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the diversity of their agendas, and the shifting and at times unclear nature of their allegiances often obscures things even further. Thus, what follows is an attempt to describe the contours of the ISK network in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it currently exists. It does not claim to be comprehensive.

The Recognized
A useful starting point are those individuals and groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have publicly pledged bay`a to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-described “Caliph,” and whose pledge has been officially recognized by the Islamic State. The individual appointed in January 2015 as ISK’s leader is Hafiz Khan Saeed, a former Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) commander responsible for that group’s operations in Orakzai, an agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that is very close to the important city of Peshawar.[4] After the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, Khan Saeed was also considered a front-runner–along with Maulana Fazlullah, then the TTP head for Malakand–to replace the deceased TTP leader. Fazlullah, as is well known, won out and assumed the TTP’s leadership position in November 2013. Close to one year later, in October 2014, Khan Saeed and four other prominent TTP commanders, as well as the group’s main spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, left TTP and pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

The other commanders who did so at the time were “Hafiz Quran Daulat, TTP chief in Kurram Agency; Gul Zaman, TTP chief in Khyber Agency; Mufti Hassan, TTP chief in Peshawar; and Khalid Mansoor, the TTP chief in the Hangu district.”[5] These were significant losses for the TTP, and a win for the Islamic State, as in one fell swoop al-Baghdadi’s group gained the allegiance of the individuals the TTP had designated to control the central FATA, a strategic block of land that stretches from the settled city of Peshawar to the Khyber pass and the immediate areas surrounding it.

Then on January 10, 2015, presaging things to come, these six individuals appeared in a video where they again pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This time they were also joined by an expanded network of individuals, all of whom pledged bay`a to the Islamic State’s leader. This group included Saad Emirati, a former Taliban commander allegedly active in Afghanistan’s Logar Province; Ubaidah al-Peshwari, leader of the al-Tawhid and Jihad Group in Peshawar; the Deputy to Sheikh Abd al-Qadir al-Khorasani;[6] Sheikh Muhsin, a commander from Afghanistan’s Kunar province; Talha, a commander from Lakki Marwat; and Omar al-Mansur, from Pakistan’s infamous Lal Masjid (Red Mosque).[7]

According to the statement, an even broader network of groups–which ranges from the Qambar Khel tribe in Khyber and the Hudhayfah group in Dir to Qari Harun’s group in Kunar province–have also pledged their support for Hafiz Khan Saeed and his position as the Amir of the mujahideen of Khorasan.[8] Less than one week after the release of the video, the ranks of Khan Saeed’s group in Pakistan were also bolstered by “50 hardcore militants of the Amr Bil Maroof group, led by Commanders Haya Khan and Waheed Khan,” from Khyber joining.[9] Then on January 26 the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, released a statement in which he formally announced the creation of ISK with Hafiz Khan Saeed serving as its leader. Unfortunately, despite these pronouncements and recent arrests of several alleged Islamic State members in Lahore, and the death of another one in Karachi, not much is known about ISK’s activities in Pakistan or its capabilities.[10] The same can be said for the linkages between ISK elements in Pakistan and the Islamic State, as well as South Asian foreign fighters who are operating on behalf of al-Baghdadi’s group in Syria and Iraq.

ISK also claims a presence in Afghanistan–even if small and somewhat developmental–in what analysts are describing as a toe-hold for the group in the country.[11] The leadership of ISK’s Afghanistan cell consists of a handful of commanders, some of whom, like Saad Emirati, have known operational experience, but who also appear to have never really fit in with the Taliban or were ousted from it. The individual initially assigned as ISK’s deputy leader in the Khorasan region was former Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdul Rauf Khadim, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in southern Afghanistan shortly after the Islamic State announced ISK’s formation.[12]

There is limited information about ISK’s presence in other parts of Afghanistan. Another former Guantanamo detainee, Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, is reportedly serving as a representative of the group in Kunar and Nuristan, but other accounts suggest that Muslimdost is only based in Pakistan.[13] ISK itself claims that it also has a presence in Kunar, Nuristan, Logar and Nangahar provinces through individual commanders loyal to its group, although it is unclear how active or large these groups are, or what kind of capabilities they have. There also appears to be an Islamic State-linked group active in Farah province, led by two brothers, Abdul Malek and Abdul Razeq.[14] As noted by researcher Borhan Osman, the challenges ISK has faced in setting up shop in Afghanistan are best reflected by the fact that “so far no influential personalities, with an actual presence on the ground, have emerged in the east,” a presence which will be key to bridging the Afghan and Pakistani components of ISK’s network.[15]

That isn’t to say that there aren’t potential opportunities or that this will not change. One interesting note also raised by Borhan Osman is that: “According to an aide to [Abdul Rauf] Khadem, Mansur Dadullah, the brother of the fearsome Taleban commander Mullah Dadullah, had also pledged allegiance to Saeed Khan and had been in contact with the late Khadem. Mansur, who inherited his brother’s network after the killing of Dadullah in 2007, was dismissed by the Afghan Taleban’s leadership for his defiance soon after he succeeded his brother.”[16] If this claim is true, and Mansur Dadullah were to openly side with ISK, it would give their Afghan efforts added steam.

The Extenders: Other Pledges and Noteworthy Expressions of Support
The ranks of the ISK network are bolstered by a second category of groups and individuals who have also publicly pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi, but whose bay`a has yet to be officially acknowledged or accepted by the Islamic State’s leadership. At this point these entities are best understood as self-affiliated actors who extend the reach, influence and capabilities of the Islamic State.

Ansar-ul-Khilafat Wal-Jihad. The first Pakistan-based organization to publically pledge bay`a to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after he announced the creation of the Caliphate is Ansar-ul-Khilafat Wal-Jihad (Helpers of the Caliphate and Jihad, or AKWJ). The group, which was formerly known as Tehrik-e-Khilafat-o-Jihad (Movement for the Caliphate and Jihad), initially pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi in July 2014, and then did so again that September.[17] This second pledge was then followed in January 2015 by a public bay`a pledge which AKWJ offered to ISK leader Hafiz Khan Saeed.[18]

While not much is known about the group, it claims to have conducted a number of small-scale operations in Hyderabad and Karachi since at least May 2014. These attacks targeted police and prison officials, a lawyer defending an alleged blasphemer, and Shi`a mosques.[19] According to AKWJ, its recent round of operations in Fall 2014 were designed “for the purpose of helping the caliphate, but…also to avenge the killings of hundreds of mujahideen who were taken out of their prisons and torture cells in the darkness of the night in recent days and killed under the false pretense of having been killed in fake police encounters, in various areas of Karachi and Khyber Agency….”[20]

A November 2012 video released by AKWJ hints at more things to come, as the video privileges a quote made by Islamic State spokesperson al-Adnani, in which he calls upon Muslims to act individually and to “dedicate your efforts to killing an American or a French infidel, or any of their ‘allies.’”[21] While it is possible these claims could be just bluster or propagandistic opportunism, AKWJ’s decision to highlight this statement could also be a hint that this small but active group could expand its target set in the near future, most likely by targeting foreigners in Pakistan.

Pakistani Jundullah. A second Pakistan-based entity that has reportedly pledged public bay`a to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the TTP splinter group Jundullah.[22] Details about the alleged bay`a are slim. Despite the existence of several Pakistani press articles on Jundullah’s pledge, the author was only able to find an unofficial statement released on November 19, 2014 by Shumukh forum member Muhib Hakimullah Mehsud, which claims that Jundullah has officially pledged itself to al-Baghdadi.[23] A Pakistani press article released one week earlier referenced a statement made by Jundullah’s spokesman, claiming that an Islamic State delegation recently met with Jundullah leaders in Baluchistan province to discuss ways to “unite various Pakistani militant groups.”[24] These reports have not been confirmed elsewhere and, like AKWJ’s pledge, the bay`a offered by Jundullah has yet to be publicly acknowledged by the the Islamic State.  While Jundullah does not appear to be a strong actor, the group has targeted Shi`a shrines in Sindh and polio workers in Quetta, illustrating that Jundullah possesses some limited capabilities and geographic reach.[25]

Representatives of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. The creation of ISK has been given an additional symbolic boost by controversial cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leader of Pakistan’s infamous Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and the brother of Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who died at the complex in 2007 after it was raided by the Pakistani military.[26] The Lal Masjid complex, which includes a female seminary named Jamia Hafsa, is highly symbolic for many of Pakistan’s jihadist groups. The Pakistani government’s operation to gain control of the facility is viewed by entities like the TTP as a central, if not the central, turning point in their war against the state.[27] Since 2007 Lal Masjid has become an iconic symbol for many local jihadists of Pakistan’s overreach and, given the stand made by those holed up at that facility, of resistance. As a result, the facility has been used by many Pakistan-based militants as a central image around which to craft their anti-state propaganda.

All of that is to say that the symbol of Lal Masjid, at least as a key jihadist reference point, matters–and that the activity of its leader, Abdul Aziz, matters to TTP-affiliated networks as well. When asked about his views on the Islamic State in an interview during the summer of 2014, Abdul Aziz offered the following: “We want a caliphate across the whole world, including Pakistan. The caliphate is the solution to the problems [sic]. These arab mujahideen have started the process of creating a caliphate, and we think this is good news for the Muslim Ummah. God willing, if their order continues, we will see it flourish all over the world.”[28] This statement was followed in November 2014 when a collection of female students from Jamia Hafsa released a video supportive of the Islamic State, which Abdul Aziz has publically defended.[29] While Abdul Aziz himself is not a barometer of change, he is a key touch point on the dynamics of Sunni militancy in Pakistan, and so his public embrace of the Islamic State is an important indicator.

Groups Playing the Middle
ISK is also benefiting from another category of groups who have not publicly pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi, but whose key members are openly supportive of the Islamic State and appear to be taking steps to provide indirect support to the Islamic State’s agenda. These types of groups are typified by Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA), a TTP splinter faction which announced in mid March 2015 that it plans to re-merge with the main TTP faction led by Mullah Fazlullah.[30] While JuA has not pledged bay`a to al-Baghdadi, and Fazlullah’s faction has remained outwardly loyal to Mullah Omar, the behavior of JuA is best characterized as being both hedging and opportunistic.[31] As the group has been walking a fine line between maintaining the status quo (i.e. support for Mullah Omar), while also praising the Islamic State and mirroring its messaging and content.

The title of the group’s English language magazine Ihya-e-Khilafat, and its content reflects how the group has been positioning itself. The most recent (2nd issue) of Ihya-e-Khilafat features several articles that reference the creation of a Caliphate, including one that calls for the spread of the Caliphate to Pakistan. Perhaps most telling though is the language used in that issue’s opening editorial, which states: “On the other hand good news have started to come…. Caliphate had [sic] been announced in Iraq and Syria under the leadership of Khalifah Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi HA and brave mujahidin of Islamic Emirate led by Mullah Muhammad Omar HA are giving strong blows to the fleeing Crusaders and local hirelings.”[32] Here JuA has made an editorial decision to identify Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Caliph, while not using a similar honorific title – Emir al-Mu’minin – to describe Mullah Omar.[33] It is also worth noting that the editor of Ihya-e-Khilafat is believed to be a former member of Pakistan’s military who, before joining JuA, tried to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.[34]

Sunni Sectarian Outfits   
Lastly, there have also been rumors and unconfirmed speculation about the potential allegiance of other groups, particularly Pakistan’s sectarian outfits, which are predominantly anti-Shi`a in orientation. For example, according to a militant with knowledge of Islamic State negotiations with Pakistani militant groups, “All anti-Shi`a groups in Pakistan will welcome and support the Islamic State in Pakistan, though most of them will not announce it openly due to their allegiance to Mullah Omar.”[35] Further, a report reportedly sent to Islamabad by the Home and Tribal Affairs Department of Baluchistan, claims that “Daish [the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] has offered some elements of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wai Jamat (ASWJ) to join hands in Pakistan.”[36] At this point these reports are just rumors. Given the sectarian orientation of the Islamic State, there is likely synergy and shared interest between the Islamic State, LeJ, SSP and ASWJ. But just because they have shared interests does not mean that they will openly collaborate.

Conclusion: Obstacles and Opportunities
The two primary challenges that ISK faces over the short-term is surviving and maintaining momentum, as the visibility and popularity the group currently enjoys will not have staying power unless it is able to make gains and be more than just a talking head. Operations a steady supply of resources will be necessary to keep the movement alive and motivated, but the potential long-term staying power of the group lies in the ideological domain, and its ability to convince others that those who currently “own” Asia’s jihads are corrupt. There are many significant obstacles on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border that plague ISK’s path–and provide opportunities that might aid its success.

West of the Durand Line in Afghanistan, ISK faces a less fractured militant landscape, and a military entity, the Afghan Taliban, that actually holds territory and has institutional experience governing. The Afghan Taliban has faced threats from ISK-like defectors, who were disgruntled by their dealings with the Taliban’s leadership and the lack of progress. And it apparently has dealt with them rather swiftly.[37] Further, if the Afghan Taliban has proven anything over the last decade, it is that it is resilient, is militarily effective, has operational staying power, and can withstand exogenous shocks. All of that means that it is going to take more than just a relatively small ISK network, which up until this point has remained untested, to go militarily toe-to-toe with the Taliban for any extended period of time.

There is also the issue of whether certain segments of Afghan’s public will even support an entity as radical and brutal as ISK, which seems unlikely. In addition, as the targeting and recent death of ISK Deputy Abdul Rauf Khadim illustrates, the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan will likely complicate ISK’s staying power in Afghanistan.

All of this has led many analysts to speculate or conclude that ISK’s chances of making in-roads in Afghanistan and eventually out-competing the Taliban are slim to none. This is certainly the safe bet to make. Yet, such a view does little to account for the wild card factor and it is predicated on several unknowns. For example, while the Afghan Taliban is good at publically projecting a united front, not much is known about who within the Taliban is also disgruntled, frustrated by progress, and might also desire something new. There are also the issues and questions that Islamic State supporters have raised about the state of Mullah Omar, and concerns about his life status and ability to publically lead; concerns which are also shared by the author. Thus, while the Afghan Taliban’s grip on the Afghan jihad seems firm, ISK has been smart to sow speculation about the Taliban’s own leader and to try and puncture the invincibility of the Taliban by attacking the central figure or symbol that ties that movement together. The Afghan Taliban will need to respond with clear evidence to these charges, as if it does not, ISK might have planted the seeds of that movement’s unraveling, or at least evolution. As the newcomer, ISK in Afghanistan faces an uphill road and the odds are not in its favor. But, just as it might be easy to write ISK in Afghanistan off, what we do not know is how quickly momentum and allegiances might shift.

East of the Durand Line, ISK faces a different Pakistani military than the one that existed in 2007, when the TTP was formally announced. Given what it has suffered, what it appears to have learned from its more recent dealings with the TTP, and how ISK’s supporters are trying to undercut and delegitimize Pakistan’s more reliable jihadi proxies, the Pakistani military is more inclined and has more incentives to go after ISK leaders, and to do so quickly. The Pakistani military’s primary challenges, however, will be overcoming some perpetual problems. Specifically, how it conducts operations in the tribal areas and in bridging the gap between the Army’s ability to “clear” an area to responsibly “hold” it over time, and do so in a way that is viewed as acceptable to locals without fostering additional anti-state activity. These are tall orders and over the mid-term could created additional opportunities for ISK to exploit, and to revive and to interject new life blood into their movement.

Second, the Pakistani public also appears to be in a different position than it was several years ago, as the recent Peshawar school massacre has illustrated the brutality of the TTP. One strategy that ISK could employ to deal with this issue, and to consolidate and broaden their support base, will be to conduct attacks that aim to deepen the divide between classes in Pakistan, and between those that live in the FATA and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with those that live in Pakistan’s more “settled” areas (i.e. Punjab, Sindh, etc.). One should remember that stoking class divisions was a key part of the TTP’s strategy during its heyday in Swat.[38]

Unless ISK takes a less antagonistic and more measured approach, a third challenging issue the group might need to deal with is the capabilities and influence of Pakistan’s old jihadist guard, groups, as typified by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat ul-Mujahidin, who have long had deep ties to the State. While there might not be open warfare between ISK and the old guard, Pakistan’s institutional jihadists will likely either be pushed or have their own incentives to subvert or limit ISK’s growth and development, even if only done indirectly or behind the scenes. A key indicator of change will be whether, and to what extent, ISK is able to gain a presence in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the main powerbase of Pakistan’s institutional jihadis.

While a lot of attention has been focused on the development of ISK as an organization, the broader and more lasting challenge for Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s jihadist landscapes is more about how and in what direction the emergence of ISK pushes other militant groups in the region. If the ISK movement is to survive and gain strength, that direction will likely be more sectarian, anti-state and more bold. In the short-term the group will also likely make a number of predictable plays, such as making attempts to: attack military outposts and international borders (even just for symbolic affect); seize, hold and control territory, and apply Sharia there; kidnap Westerners; and target Shi`a and other minorities.[39] With the help of the Islamic State, ISK will also likely up its media game, and with the use of future releases it will likely attempt to shift the narratives that have long driven the Afghan and Kashmir jihads in its favor.

Don Rassler is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Combating Terrorism Center and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.   

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

[1] This group included: Abu `Ubayda al-Lubnani, Abu al-Muhannad al-Urduni, Abu Jarir al-Shimali (Abu Tha’ir), Abu al-Huda al-Sudani, `Abd-al-`Aziz al-Maqdisi, `Abdullah al-Banjabi, Abu Younis al-Kurdim, Abu `A’isha al-Qurtubi, and Abu Mus`ab al-Tadamuni, March 2014, CTC Library.

[2] For additional background see “An Interview with the Mujahid Brother Salah-al-Din al-Maqdisi,” Al Battar Media Establishment, April 24, 2014.

[3] First, for analytical clarity and to bound complexity, the author has decided to limit his analysis of the development of ISK to Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a stronger emphasis placed on the latter. The author recognizes that the term “Khorasan” extends beyond the physical boundaries of these two countries. However, the author prefers to provide more precision with respect to these two countries, vice covering more geographic ground. Thus, the influence of the Islamic State in Central Asia and India are beyond the scope of this article. Second, this author also made an intentional decision to focus his analysis on the network of individuals and groups whose home base is either Afghanistan and Pakistan, and not on the dynamics associated with the flow of foreign fighters to and from either Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria and Iraq. These two issues are clearly connected, but – due to length limitations – are also beyond the scope of this article.

[4] “Say Die in Your Rage: An Address by the Spokesman for the Islamic State the Mujahid Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani ash-Shami,” January 26, 2015; for some background on the TTP’s activity in Orakzai see Raheel Khan, “The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Orakzai,” New America Foundation, September 2010; Tayyab Ali Shah, “Pakistan’s Challenges in Orakzai,” CTC Sentinel, 3:7 (2010).

[5] Amir Mir, “Pakistan Now has a Native Daesh Amir,” The News, January 13, 2015.

[6] Approximately two weeks after the establishment of the Islamic State in late June 2014, the Abtal al-Islam Establishment – which is led by Sheikh Abd al-Qadir al-Khorasani, initially pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and did so independently. See “Alleged TTP Faction Official and Abtalul Islam Media Pledge to IS,” SITE, July 11, 2014.

[7] “Pledge of Allegiance by Amirs of the Mujahidin in Khurasan to the Amir of the Believers, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, May God Protect Him,” January 10, 2015; for background on the commanders / individuals who are reported to be active in Afghanistan see Borhan Osman, “The Shadows of ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan: What threat does it hold?”, Afghanistan Analysts Network, February 12, 2015.

[8] “Pledge of Allegiance by Amirs of the Mujahidin in Khurasan to the Amir of the Believers, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, May God Protect Him”; for a complete review see “Islamic State Appoints Leaders of ‘Khorasan Province,’ Issues Veiled Threat to Afghan Taliban,” Long War Journal,  January 27, 2015.

[9] The full name of the Amr Bil Maroof group is Amar Bil Maroof wa Nahi Anil Munkir (Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue). For background on this issue see Amir Mir, “50 Amr Bil Maroof militants join Daish,” The News, January 20, 2015.

[10] Mubasher Bukhari, “Pakistan Arrests Local ISIS Commander,” Al-Arabiya, January 21, 2015; An article about the arrest of four individuals who were allegedly acting in support of the Islamic State by a newspaper in Bangladesh claims that the group’s ring leader had ties to a militant named “Sajjad” who – before his death in a police crackdown – reportedly served as an the Islamic State leader in Karachi. See “4 IS Militants on 5 Day Remand,” The Daily Star, January 19, 2015.

[11] Borhan Osman, “The Shadows of ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan: What threat does it hold?” Afghanistan Analysts Network, February 12, 2015.

[12]  “Say Die in Your Rage: An Address by the Spokesman for the Islamic State the Mujahid Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani ash-Shami,”; see also Ari Shapiro, Leila Fadel and Philip Reeves, “How ISIS had Expanded Beyond its Syrian Stronghold,” NPR, February 18, 2015.

[13] Borhan Osman, “The Shadows of ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan: What threat does it hold?” Afghanistan Analysts Network, February 12, 2015.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Tehrik-e-Khilafat-o-Jihad video, July 14, 2014; Tehrik-e-Khilafat-o-Jihad video September 17, 2014.

[18] CTC Library, January 30, 2015.

[19] For background on AKWJ’s claimed attacks see “The Lies and True Reality of Usama Mahmood, Spokesman of Al-Qa’ida in the (Indian) Subcontinent”, Ansar-ul-Khilafat Wal-Jihad video, January 4, 2014.

[20] “Statement from Ansar-ul-Khilafat Wal-Jihad congratulating those whose pledge of allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims has been accepted, and an ardent appeal to target the armies of the apostate tyrannical forces in order to support the caliphate,” Ansar-ul-Khilafat Wal-Jihad video, November 22, 2014.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Some analysts refer to this group as the Ahmed Marwat group. The group should not be confused with the Iranian Jundullah movement, which was active in the late 2000s before the capture and death of its leader. For background on Iranian Jundullah see Audun Kolstad Wiig, “Islamist Opposition in the Islamic Republic: Jundullah and the Spread of Extremist Deobandism in Iran,” FFI report, July 2, 2009.

[23] The posting was titled: “Glad Tidings: A New Bay`a to the Islamic State”; see also “Jundullah Vows Allegiance to the Islamic State,” Reuters, November 18, 2014.

[24] “IS Visits Militants in Baluchistan: Jundullah Spokesman,” Dawn, November 12, 2014.

[25] See Aamir Iqbal, “Suicide Blast Targets Shikarpur Imambargah,” Newsweek Pakistan, January 30, 2015; Haseeb Bhatti and Shakeel Qarar, “TTP Claims Attack on Rawalpindi Imambargah, Three Killed,” Dawn, February 19, 2015; “Jundullah claims responsibility for attack on polio workers in Quetta,” Express Tribune, November 28, 2014; For background on attacks on polio workers see Animesh Roul, “The Pakistani Taliban’s Campaign Against Polio Vaccination,” CTC Sentinel 7:8 (2014).

[26] For background on the Lal Masjid operation and the Ghazi brothers see Qandeel Siddique, The Red Mosque Operation and its Impact on the Growth of the Pakistani Taliban,” FFI report, October 8, 2008; Hassan Abbas, “The Road to Lal Masjid and its Aftermath,” Terrorism Monitor  4:2 (2007); “The Lal Masjid Report,” Express Tribune, April 28, 2013; on the development of the Punjabi Taliban see Mujahid Hussain, Punjabi Taliban: Driving Extremism in Pakistan (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2012).

[27] For example see “An Interview of Respected Ameer Omar Khalid Khorasani with Ihya-e-Khilafat,” Ihya-e-Khilafat, October 2014, pg. 36.

[28] Interview with Maulana Abdul Aziz, Bab ul-Islam, July 28, 2014.

[29] Although this video claims to be on behalf of the female students of Jamia Hafsa writ large, it is not known how representative this pledge of support is. “Message From the University of Hafsa To All Mujahideen,” as posted by Twitter user @MehrAdeeb.

[30] Bill Roggio, “Pakistani Islamist Groups, Lashkar-i-Islam Merge into the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan,” Long War Journal, March 12, 2015.

[31] For example, when asked, before the group’s recent re-merger with Fazlullah’s TTP faction, about whether JuA will join the Islamic State JuA’s spokesman had the following to say: “We will see whether we can fight better for the cause on our own or by joining IS… if the offer is serious, the matter will be decided by our political shura.” Ali Akbar, “From TTP to IS: Pakistan’s Terror Landscape Evolves,” Dawn, no date; for background on Fazlullah’s position see Tahir Khan, Pakistani Taliban Only Loyal to Mullah Omar, Says TTP Spokesperson,” Express Tribune, October 6, 2014.

[32] “Editorial,” Ihya-e-Khilafat, October 2014, pg. 2.

[33] This could have just been an editorial oversight, but given JuA’s choice of articles it could have also been intentional, and it suggests that the newly remerged TTP could leverage JuA’s plays in these areas and take a more nuanced position on the Islamic State.

[34] Amir Mir, “Jamaatul Ahrar Video to be Probed,” The News, October 20, 2014.

[35] “Jundullah Vows Allegiance to the Islamic State,” Reuters, November 18, 2014.

[36] “IS Visits Militants in Baluchistan: Jundullah Spokesman,” Dawn, November 12, 2014.

[37] The case of Mullah Dadullah Lang is a case in point.

[38] See Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, “Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan,” New York Times, April 16, 2009.

[39] JuA’s recent attack against Pakistan’s Wagah border crossing with India, which killed over 50 people, could be mirrored by ISK and a sign of future attacks to come; for a view into the Islamic State’s potential plans see also “IS Visits Militants in Baluchistan: Jundullah Spokesman.”

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