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Al Qaeda And The Afghan Taliban’s IS Predicament

By Abdul Basit, The Express Tribune with The International New York Times, 12 May 2015

The writer is an associate research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. He tweets @basit.researcher

The emergence of the Islamic State’s (IS) local affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the Khurasan Shura, has put the Taliban leadership in a bind. The jihadist landscape in the two countries has become a highly contested domain with the advent of the Khurasan Shura. The pro-IS allegiances and defections are at the heart of this evolving competition. The trend seems to be growing as more and more militants, particularly from among the younger generation, have demonstrated pro-IS inclinations.

At present, the Af-Pak militant landscape is undergoing an operational and ideological transformation as different militant outfits make strategic and tactical positional adjustments to these shifting sands. In September 2014, al Qaeda launched its South Asian branch to retain the loyalties of militant groups in the region. However, in these eight months, the wing has been fairly subdued, to say nothing of its attempts or capacity to carry out attacks.