By Aamir Latif & Hatice Kesgin
ISLAMABAD — The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is luring members of Taliban, and other militant groups to join its ranks in a bid to establish its footprints in Pakistan, a report sent to Islamabad by the state government of Northwestern Balochistan province claimed.
Quoting ISIL’s claim, the report billed as “secret information report” said the militant network has already recruited 10,000 to 12,000 militants from Hangu and Kurram Agency tribal areas.
The provincial Balochistan government report to the federal government.
The report said ISIL had offered “elements” from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of different insurgent groups operating in Pakistan, and hardline Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to join its ranks to attack security installations and minority Shiite community in Pakistan.
The network has also formed a strategic planning wing to establish its bases and recruit followers in Pakistan, the report issued by the home department of Balochistan government stated.
Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces must be prepared for possible ISIL attacks on the border with Afghanistan, the document said.
The warning has been issued weeks after six key Taliban commanders, including former TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, announced their allegiance to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
However, security analysts see the report as spiced up with exaggeration.
“This (report) is a mere exaggeration as it does not have any base,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based expert on Afghan and tribal affairs said.
He said ISIL might have recruited “dozens” of members but they could not be in the thousands.
“There is a very little space for ISIL in Pakistan because conditions are totally different here compared to Iraq and Syria,” he said.
“Those who have prepared this report do not even know about the reasons behind the creation of ISIL. It’s a reaction to Nouri-al-Mailki’s (Iraqi Premier) anti-Sunni policies. Whereas, Sunnis are 85 per cent inPakistan and do not face any threat from the Shiite minority,” Yusufzai observed.
Referring to the allegiance of six TTP commanders to ISIL, Yusufzai said, “It‘s quite interesting to note thatISIL has not far publicly accepted their allegiance or even commented on that. It shows how seriously ISILtakes Pakistani Taliban.”
Kamal Hyder, an Islamabad-based security analyst, agrees.
“I do not know what the base of this report is but recruitment of 12,000 followers is even far from exaggeration,” he added.
Hyder thinks the militant network might recruit “some elements” who have parted ways with the TTP but it cannot capture a huge territory in Pakistan as it has done in Iraq and Syria.
“Al-Qaeda and Taliban have already distanced themselves from ISIL, while a majority of PakistaniTaliban have already announced their allegiance to Mullah Omar,” he observed.