The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has yet again rejected the Islamic State and said its emir, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is unfit to lead an Islamic caliphate.
The jihadist group, which is Pakistan’s largest Taliban faction, denounced Baghdadi and his Islamic State in a statement obtained by Reuters.
“Baghdadi is not Khalifa (caliph) because in Islam, Khalifa means that he has command over all the Muslim world, while Baghdadi has no such command; he has command over a specific people and territory,” the Pakistani Taliban said.
“Baghdadi is not a Islamic Khalifa because his selection is not according to Islamic rules,” the Taliban faction continued, making the same arguments that has been been made by al Qaeda and its various branches, and the Afghan Taliban.
In addition to rejecting Baghdadi as caliph, the Pakistani Taliban said the Islamic State is illegitimate because its followers kill “innocent mujahideen.”
“Baghdadi’s caliphate is not Islamic because in a real caliphate you provide real justice while Baghdadi’s men kill many innocent mujahideen (fighters) of other groups,” the Taliban continued.
The Islamic State routinely attacks other jihadist group and Islamist rebel factions who refuse to swear allegiance to Baghdadi and join the Islamic State. The Islamic State regularly clashes with its rivals for control of territory in Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya.
The statement obtained by Reuters is similar to one issued by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in May, when the group issued a lengthy rejection of the Islamic State’s “self-professed caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State has attempted to cut into the support enjoyed by the Taliban and al Qaeda inside Pakistan. In January, a group of mid-level Pakistani Taliban commanders pledged their loyalty to Baghdadi. In February, the group’s emir for the Pakistani tribal agency of Bajaur also defected to Baghdadi’s cause. The defections came after internal discord and disputes dissolved the original Pakistani Taliban coalition last year.
Pakistani Taliban leaders, likely with the aid of al Qaeda, have worked to reunite the feuding factions. In March, a major faction calling itself the Pakistani Taliban Jamaat ul Ahrar decided to rejoin the original umbrella organization. Lashkar-i-Islam also decided to join the Pakistani Taliban.
Also, in May, three Pakistani jihadist groups, including one led by Matiur Rehman, joined the ranks of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Rehman, a key commander who has served as a senior leader in al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was put in charge of the three groups. His involvement was likely supported and approved by al Qaeda’s high command.
The Islamic State is thought to have a small presence inside Pakistan. The jihadist group has advertised several small training camps, which are thought to be based in South Waziristan, but it has not conducted any significant attacks inside Pakistan.
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