http://pakistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_pf/features/2019/05/20/feature-02
| Security

Authorities on alert as ISIS declares Pakistan a new 'province'

By Abdul Ghani Kakar

Seen here is an ISIS member looking to the horizon. ISIS recently deemed Pakistan a "province", evidence the terror group is trying to raise its profile in the country. [File]

QUETTA -- The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) is apparently shifting its focus towards Pakistan and India after its territorial defeat in the Middle East earlier this year.

ISIS recently announced the creation of "Pakistan Province" through its Amaq propaganda mouthpiece, when it claimed responsibility for killing a traffic police officer in Mastung District, Balochistan Province, May 12.

ISIS also claimed to have targeted Taliban fighters in Quetta May 14, killing one person and wounding three others, however local officials denied the victims were Taliban members.

ISIS posted a message on Telegram on May 15 describing Pakistan as a "province" and detailing an alleged attack on Taliban members in Quetta. [File]

An ISIS image shows its flag on Minar-e-Pakistan, a national monument in Lahore. ISIS is shifting its focus to Pakistan and India after its territorial defeat in the Middle East. [File]

The terror group also claimed to have carried out an attack on police in Karachi on May 20.

Meanwhile, on May 10, ISIS claimed its "Hind Province" branch attacked Indian forces in the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir.

Both new ISIS "provinces" previously fell within ISIS's "Khorasan Province", the name the group uses to describe regional operations launched from bases in Afghanistan.

"The facilitators of ISIS may have a presence on our soil," admitted Aitzaz Ahmed Goraya, deputy inspector general of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in Balochistan Province.

"ISIS basically sees Balochistan and other tribal areas of Pakistan as soft targets for its operations; therefore, it is trying to establish a footprint here," he told Pakistan Forward.

A counter-insurgency operation May 16 killed nine terrorists, including three commanders, at a training base linked to ISIS militants in the Kabu-Mehran area of Mastung, he said.

"We are making all efforts to uproot every possible presence of ISIS on our soil, and the recent strike carried out against ISIS militants in Mastung May 16 was a big blow to ISIS and its facilitators in the region," Goraya said.

"From the militants' training base, heavy weapons, explosives, suicide jackets, ammunition and literature on the latest and sophisticated weapons training were seized," he said, adding that the National Database and Registration Authority is working to identify the dead militants.

Fighting militant propaganda

"It cannot be ruled out that ISIS is a potential threat to our national security, but in our region, the operational capability of this militant group is not yet as strong as it is in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Syria," a senior Quetta-based intelligence official told Pakistan Forward on the condition of anonymity.

"The ISIS propaganda network is much stronger than that of other militant groups," he said, adding that ISIS is "working here to strengthen its ideological and cyber warfare".

"ISIS has a strong media platform, and it is monitoring the content of online media around the clock for its strategic interests," he said.

For the past couple of years, ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks not claimed by any other group in order to magnify its importance, the official said.

"Without local support, ISIS cannot achieve its goal in Pakistan," he said.

"The operational and communication capability of ISIS is largely dependent on social networking," senior Islamabad-based defence analyst Maj. (ret.) Omar Farooq told Pakistan Forward, urging authorities to block all social media accounts that publicise ISIS propaganda.

"Countering... the Taliban and ISIS on our soil requires a comprehensive strategy, and the security establishment of the country must adopt an actionable policy to address this rising threat," he said.

A strategy to counter ISIS

Pakistani security forces must remain vigilant, said Rashid Ahmed, an Islamabad-based senior defence analyst.

"The May 8 suicide attack on Data Darbar [shrine] in Lahore, the April 12 suicide bombing at Quetta Hazargunji Fruit market and attacks in other parts of the country are proving that the terrorist groups are resurfacing," he told Pakistan Forward.

A faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the Lahore and Quetta incidents.

"It is a fact that ISIS recruited a huge number of people in Pakistan," Ahmed added.

"The ISIS-linked suspects arrested in Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Islamabad, Quetta and other parts of the country in the past couple of years have confirmed that ISIS is a constant threat to our peace and stability," he said.

"It is time to adopt a comprehensive counter-ISIS strategy in the country," he said.

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| 06-06-2019

Well, I want to know, how did the reporter able to reach these group? How they approach the newspaper and website, how the interview was conducted? Does they approach you via telephone, Internet, mobile or via telegraph fax or letter?? Looks like this website of news and group is being involved in spying and spreading fake propaganda news, in order to create Chaos in the region and to destabilise Pakistan... I think we have to take action against you as well

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| 06-01-2019

Well, I want to know, how did the reporter able to reach these group? How they approach the newspaper and website, how the interview was conducted? Does they approach you via telephone, Internet, mobile or via telegraph fax or letter?? Looks like this website of news and group is being involved in spying and spreading fake propaganda news, in order to create Chaos in the region and to destabilise Pakistan... I think we have to take action against you as well

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| 05-28-2019

Its not ISIS ITS US and its Allie's decision

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| 09-20-2019

It's actually ISIS trying to reach asian muslim countries like Pakistan.

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| 05-28-2019

Obviously America and Israel are doing this, and we know very well ...

And they will never get success insha Allah

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| 05-27-2019

But there hasn’t been any official confirmation of presence of ISIS in Pakistan

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| 05-29-2019

America, Iran and Israel will try their best to destabilize Pakistan and all three tactics will be used. Drone attacks in Pakistan on the pretext of Daesh, sabotaging cpec by acquiring bases for surveillance of Iran, target killing of PTM leaders with the help of facilitators to show that Pakistan is treating Pashtunes unfairly and the last plan, America will support Pakistan government against PTM for the price of peaceful evacuation from Afghanistan of marines and combat equipment through its naval fleet and will continue to lend all support to Afghan Government but will not provide any support to Pakistan. But soon after evacuation of America, Taliban will be active again in Afghanistan, Afghan Government and indian investment will be destroyed. (Of course Allah knows better)

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