5 Oct 2014

‘We are with you’: new allies for Islamic State

The Pakistani Taliban is reported to have pledged to send fighters to support the Islamic State group in the fight against the “enemies who are united against you”.

Pakistan Taliban

Above: member of Pakistan Taliban

Hours after a video was released showing the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning, the Taliban is reported to have released a statement saying “we are with you”.

We are with you, we will provide you with mujahideen and with every possible support Pakistani Taliban statement

The statement, written in Urdu, Pashto and Arabic, is said to read: “Oh our brothers, we are proud of you in your victories. We are with you in your happiness and your sorrow.

“In these troubled days, we call for your patience and stability, especially now that all your enemies are united against you. Please put all your rivalries behind you.

“All Muslims in the world have great expectations of you … We are with you, we will provide you with mujahideen and with every possible support.”

The Islamic State group, which controls areas of land in Iraq and Syria, has made in-roads into south Asia – an area dominated by Afghan and Pakistani insurgencies against respective governments.

Islamic State activists have been seen at street rallies in Kashmir and handing out literature in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The latest statement adds the Pakistani Taliban to a list of extremist groups that have shown support to the brutal Islamic State cause.

Among those groups are organisations fighting in Syria like the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra – which have shown closer ties with IS in recent weeks.

IS and al-Qaeda have enjoyed a thorny relationship, with IS criticising al-Qaeda for being out of touch. However, with the al-Qaeda-linked Taliban expressing support there will be concerns of an increasing extremist axis being developed in the Middle East.

Other groups that have pledged support to IS are:

Boko Haram

Last month Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigeria-based Islamist group whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, released a video in which he said Boko Haram ought to imitate the “inspirational” Islamic State group.

Abubakr Shekau

Above: Abubakr Shekau, leader of Boko Haram

He has kept good to his promise – with the group releasing a video of the beheading of a Nigerian air force pilot last week.

Islamic State Twitter accounts have been crowing about the close ties with Boko Haram, a group that returned to the limelight in April with the kidnap of 276 female students.

Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen

Another group that has been carrying out beheadings is the Egypt and Gaza-based group that describes violence against Jews as a religious obligation.

In August a video was released of the beheading of four men in the Sinai Peninsula close to Israel’s border.

Jund al-Khalifah

In September the leader of the Islamist group announced he was breaking ties with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State’s caliphate.

Two weeks later the group claimed to have beheaded Herve Gourdel, a French mountaineering guide – an act they say was retaliation for French airstrikes against Islamic State fighters.

Ansar al-Sharia

Ansar al-Sharia covers a range of Islamist militant group across a number of countries including Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.

Ansar al-Sharia in Libya was formed during the country’s civil war, and and is accused of carrying out the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens. In July the group declared Benghazi “an Islamic emirate”.

Benghazi attack

Above: 2012 Benhgazi attack

The Tunisian branch was among the first to head to Syria to declare loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the leader of the Yemeni branch is a known supporter of Islamic State.

Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters

These two Philippines-based groups are both reported to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and there were reports in August that fighters from both groups were training with IS in Iraq.

Abu Sayyaf has been involved in six terrorist attacks this year, killing dozens and kidnapping people.