Islamic State’s Khorasan province beheads former shura member who defected back to the Taliban


Sa’ad Emarati

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.

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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  • katut says:

    What is the source of the execution video? The news from Khaama shows a screenshot of the video but it doesn’t seem to be Saad Imarati. If it is indeed true that he was beheaded, it is great news for Afghan National Security Forces. It will also be ironic for him to executed brutally as he is the guy who executed an Afghan security officer with an SPG-9 if you guy remember. @Bill Roggio 1- Do you think the recent open letter from Taliban could result in any thaw in relations between the two groups and has IS ever worked under command of another group? 2- Will the conflict between these groups help ANSF in any significant way?

    I really hope NDS exploits these opportunities and make sure the two groups bleed each other out.

  • James says:

    Great news indeed ! Not only are they blowing each other up (instead of US up) with the weapons we issued to them (which I’m certain that had they not gotten them from US they would have gotten them from elsewhere), but also they are now sawing each others heads off. I am just so elated and flabbergasted over these latest developments !

  • JVC says:

    “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.”
    Yes, I would believe that to be quite accurate.

  • Bernie says:

    Silly question – but, as the name suggests, was this guy from the UAE? or spent time here in the Emirates?

  • Oberron says:

    SOP for IS, start getting local intel, assassinating key leaders here and there, bring in foreigners with no local ties to serve as the mobile kill groups while local recruits stay local and in reserve to maintain mission security and win locals over by doing community works such as picking up trash, mowing lawns, helping grandma cross the street, etc.

    For the Afghans whose choices are the brutal but non-corrupt Taliban, or the brutal and corrupt ANA with the US drone striking them on flimsy evidence (despite clear evidence this is undermining US strategy they still keep doing so), now they have the semi-brutal, non-corrupt, service providing Islamic State which also has laxer social rules than the Taliban.

    Guess which the Afghans will choose, especially after nearly 40 years of constant warfare.

    • Dan says:


      The Afghans will not welcome IS doctrine into their society. And to call IS “semi-brutal”, and “non-corrupt” is absurd.

      IS will not succeed in Afghanistan, we may even see the Taliban regain some influence by default which will likely throw Afghanistan back into civil war.

      Therefore, by default, the Afghans will choose a future a more war.

  • mike merlo says:

    great news. Am most curious to ‘see’ how this ISIS/ISIL vs Taliban/AQ conflict will play out with Pakistan’s ISI

  • Doing the homework says:

    Ad. Katut – this is the sixth Wilayat Khorasan official video, I will not post a link to it, as I do not like to see the jihadists propaganda being spread. But you should be able to find a link on twitter after some searching.

    The problem is that scepticism should be excercised linking the video to Emarati. There are many reasons for that: 1) The name given of the slaughtered spy (jaasoos) is Khaadeekel (maybe his tribe?) not Emarati; 2) there is no mentioning of Emarati on the Islamic state/Wilayat Khorasan accounts, only that it is a spy execution, that would have been likely mentioned, 3) He is labelled as spy, not traitor (could be just semantics though); 4) the place of the execution is Kot (likely Bati Kot) in Nangarhar, not Logar (he could have travelled); 5) more importantly the tweet that Emarati redefected to Taliban is likely fake, as Emarati had been affiliated with TTP or perhaps HQN which is predominant in Logar, not Taliban (be it Quetta or Peshawar shura); 6) The only source indicating that it is Emarati is some Afghan journalists, who do not explain how did they arrived on this conclusion, and now Bill (no offence).

    Occam razor is clear – unless new evidence is presented, the person slaughtered IMHO should not be treated as Emarati.

  • Javeed nomani says:

    That is not true… Emarati is still alive, and he is not back to the taliban, and he is still in logar, hiding somewhere there.

  • gitsum says:

    Thats nice nothing new here, this has been going on for 1500 Years! Better themselves than us …(the good guys!)

  • Dennis says:

    If it wasn’t so preposterous, you’d think this was an overt plan by some western gov’t to get them at each other’s throats. Hard to believe no ones claimed it was their idea.

  • Tariq Shamim says:

    Looks like international media and NATO-US want ISIS to take over and route the Taliban who and then……….it’s downhill. The Taliban aren’t going anywhere, this is not Syria or Iraq where media propaganda sometimes overshadow ground realities (not sometimes, well most of the times in the case of Iraq-Syria). This is Afghanistan. But yes, ISI’s role is crucial in all this. 15 years of war is enough to expose the loopholes and incapability of US military as militants continue to hold the whip hand in most of the provinces.


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