Isil branches out into Pakistan as it bids to rebuild collapsed caliphate

The Islamic State group has disclosed the creation of a new regional chapter in Pakistan, as the group tries to rebrand and rebuild after the destruction of its caliphate.

The organisational reshuffle came five days after the announcement of a similar new outfit in India.

Pakistani operations had until this week been attributed to the group’s Khorasan Province which encompassed Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of central Asia.

Statements claiming the killing of a Pakistani policeman and a rival Taliban member in separate attacks in Balochistan earlier this week were instead attributed to a new Pakistan Province.

The group has been restructuring its regional operations since last summer, said Tore Hamming, a jihadist specialist at the European University Institute. New regional groups have been also been founded in Turkey, Central Africa and Greater Sahara, he said.

The remnants of the Islamic State caliphate in Baghouz, Syria, in March

However, the new names are “nothing more than a rebranding strategy to counter its demise”, he said.

“I simply see it as a calculated strategy to appear as successful and as an expanding force in the midst of all its territorial loss.”

Setting up more branches was an attempt to boost its credentials in those regions and attract new recruits as well as defections from other militant groups, analysts also believe.

Islamic State group first emerged in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2015 at the height of the extremists self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Members of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban as well as other militant groups defected to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

While the group has taken responsibility for a string of bombings in Pakistan, the country’s security forces claim it has no organised presence. Across the border in Afghanistan, it has established a stubborn grip in parts of Kunar and Nangarhar, but has lost territory to the Taliban.

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