TTP denies its spokesman defected to Islamic State


The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) released a statement denying that its spokesman, “Shahidullah Shahid,” had defected to the Islamic State. Additionally, the group said that “Shahidullah Shahid” is merely a nom de guerre shared by its spokesmen, and that the person who defected in Shahidullah Shahid’s name is no longer a member of the TTP.

The statement, which was released by the group yesterday, is reproduced below in full. According to the TTP, Shaykh Maqbool, who previously served as the group’s spokesman, defected under the name of Shahidullah Shahid but had no right to do so as he was replaced “long ago” by “another brother” who will be named at a later date.

The TTP said it wants “to make it clear that Shaykh Maqbool is not Shahidullah Shahid (He’s not our Spokesman anymore).” The statement did not address the status of the five TTP commanders who also reportedly defected, but did say that TTP emir Mullah Fazlullah remains loyal to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The TTP’s announcement helps to clarify one confusing aspect of the defection of “Shahidullah Shahid” that Thomas Joscelyn and I reported on when noting that he joined the Islamic State. [See LWJ report, Discord dissolves Pakistani Taliban coalition.]

On Sept. 6, Shahidullah Shahid (obviously the current one) denied reports that the TTP had joined the Islamic State. Yet one week later, a person identifying himself as Shahidullah Shahid (who in hindsight is Shaykh Maqbool) announced that he and five TTP commanders had defected. It is clear that Shaykh Maqbool was using the title of Shahidullah Shahid even though he was no longer the TTP’s spokesman.

On the issue of the Taliban using the same nom de guerre to identify its spokesmen, this practice actually is not uncommon. For instance, “Zahibullah Muhajid” and “Qari Yousuf Ahmadi” are known to be shared aliases for Afghan Taliban spokesmen.

TTP statement on Shaykh Maqbool’s defection:

Statement of Pakistani Taliban (TTP Central) about their “Former” Spokesman who has allegedly given baya (allegiance) to Jama’at al-Dawla (ISIS) Shahidullah Shahid is an “imaginary” name which is used by a person who becomes Spokesman of TTP Central Shaykh Maqbool has also been spokesman of TTP Central, Therefore, he was called Shahidullah Shahid.

Long ago, another brother had replaced Shaykh Maqbool and was promoted to spokesman of TTP (Means, He became Shahidullah Shahid). We did not announce that due to our policy. But Shaykh Maqbool used this name (Shahidullah Shahid) for his individual purpose

We want to make it clear that Shaykh Maqbool is not Shahidullah Shahid (He’s not our Spokesman anymore).

As for the Baya to ISIS, Emir of TTP Central, Mulla Fazlullah has already cleared that our baya is to Emir al-Mominin Mullah M. Omar [the leader of the Afghan Taliban].

Lastly, We will soon announce the name of our New Spokesman

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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