The Islamic State’s Khorasan province is said to have brutally executed one of its former shura members, purportedly for defecting back to the Taliban last month. The execution, as well as the assassination of the Taliban’s shadow governor for Nangarhar province, likely by the Islamic State, preceded a warning by the Taliban’s deputy emir to the leader of the Islamic State to end discord between the jihadist groups in Afghanistan.
The Islamic State released a video purpoting to showing the execution of Sa’ad Emarati, a senior commander as well as a member of the “Khorasan Shura,” the province’s executive council. Emarati’s head was placed on his back after it was removed.
The authenticity of the video cannot be confirmed by The Long War Journal.
The Islamic State is said to have executed Emarati because he left the group and rejoined the Taliban, presumably the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Jihadists on Twitter claimed in mid-May that Emarati left the Islamic State. One said that “after realizing the facts” he went “back to his brothers in the Islamic Emirate.” Neither of the two jihadist groups confirmed his defection, however.
Before joining the Islamic State, Emarati led the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s Sa’ad bin Abi Waqas Front in the Afghan province of Logar. The Ustad Yasir training camp, which was run by Emarati, was promoted by the Islamic State in April.
Emarati was one of several disaffected Afghan and Pakistani Taliban commanders who joined the Islamic State’s Khorasan province in the fall of 2014. The group announced its leadership in mid-January. At the end of January, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State, accepted the oath of allegiance. [See LWJ reports, Pakistani Taliban splinter group again pledges allegiance to Islamic State, and Islamic State appoints leaders of ‘Khorasan province,’ issues veiled threat to Afghan Taliban.]
Second Taliban senior leader reported killed by the Islamic State this month
In addition to Emarati, the Islamic State is said to have assassinated Maulvi Mir Ahmad Gul Hashmi, the Taliban’s shadow governor for the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. Hashmi was gunned down in the Pakistani city of Peshawar last week, according to The Express Tribune.
Hashmi’s death was confirmed by Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, but the assassin was not named. No group has claimed responsibility for Hashmi’s death.
However, several jihadists on Twitter who are “opposed to the Islamic State claimed that the group’s Khorasan Province killed” Hashmi, the SITE Intelligence Group reported on June 13. One jihadist said that Hashmi was on the “frontline” against the Islamic State.
The two groups have clashed numerous times in Nangarhar. In February, the Taliban attacked a local commander and his fighters after they swore allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Earlier this month, Islamic State fighters are said to have captured and beheaded 10 Taliban fighters in Nangarhar’s Achin district.
Taliban rebukes Islamic State for sowing discord among jihadists
The Islamic State’s penchant for attacking its rivals and the execution of two senior Afghan jihadist leaders likely played a part in the motivation for Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour’s appeal to Baghdadi to end the infighting and submit to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” or the Taliban.
Mansour, the deputy emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the leader of the group’s shura, released his statement to Baghdadi on June 16. He argued that divisions in the ranks of the jihadists in Afghanistan and elsewhere leads to infighting, which harms all Muslims.
“Now if there is an attempt to create another jihadist group or another leadership, it will clearly pave the way for differences and division,” Mansour stated. “That is why the Islamic Emirate says that jihadist activity in Afghanistan should only be under the Emirate leadership.” [See LWJ report, Taliban chastise Islamic State for dividing jihadist ranks in Afghanistan and beyond.]
Mansour said that infighting, such as the execution of Emarati and assassination of Hashmi, and open warfare in places such as Nangarhar, only benefits “the invading crusaders,” or the US and NATO.
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