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Terror Has a New Name : Former al-Qaida Members Launch New Militant Group ‘Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan’

Inspired by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s slain founder, the group has vowed to continue its struggle through “jihad” against “infidel and apostates”

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A Pakistani militant holds a rocket-propelled grenade in Shawal, in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan,
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Karachi, September 11, 2017 : A new al-Qaida-inspired militant group, which has recently emerged in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi claims to act as a platform for militants who have grown disaffected with the Islamic State militant group (IS) in the country.

The group, Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan, was reportedly formed by two former al-Qaida members who had severed ties with the organization in early 2017. Since then, the group has been involved in several attacks in Karachi, according to Pakistani counterterrorism authorities.

“The Ansar al-Sharia group started killings in Karachi since the beginning of this year and claimed responsibility for killing an army officer on Faisal Highway [in Karachi],” Major General Mohammad Saeed, the head of Rangers paramilitary security force in Karachi, told local media. He added the group has been focusing attacks on “the police only.”

The group was allegedly created to operate as a platform for militants who have parted ways with IS in the country, it said in an online statement. It claimed to be active in several parts of the country.

“We give glad tidings to Muslim Ummah that a large number of Mujahideen from Karachi, Punjab and tribal areas are leaving ranks of IS and announce disassociation with [it],” the group said in an announcement through a Twitter account, adding that IS has “spread differences” and “secession instead of unity.”

The group has vowed to continue its struggle through “jihad” against “infidel and apostates.”

Though the newly-emerged group asserts no official affiliation with al-Qaida and other foreign militant organizations, the group said its ideology is inspired by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s slain founder.

VOA was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the Twitter account.

According to the counterterrorism department of Karachi police, Ansar al-Sharia has a presence in areas between Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

“Unfortunately, according to the names that have come up in the investigation, their kill team has three young men who have masters [degrees] in applied physics,” Maj. Gen. Saeed said.

Pakistani media reported the terror outfit also has female members. Police have reportedly arrested four women, including a doctor, suspected of membership in the group.

Pakistani authorities have vowed action to seize members of the group in the country, including in Karachi.

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A police officer has reportedly been arrested for links with an alleged Ansar-al-Sharia member in Karachi, Pakistani media reported.

Al-Qaida’s branch in South Asia, known as al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has been active in the region. Several militant groups in Pakistan that had an ideological association with bin Laden’s al-Qaida, have pledged allegiance to AQIS.

Much of AQIS’s power is concentrated in Karachi and IS has also claimed presence in in Pakistan’s largest city. (VOA)

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Hundreds Of Afghan Civilians Were Displaced Due To IS

Families in the province left their houses to escape violence from militants.

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Afghan National Army troops prepare for an operation against insurgents in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017.
Afghan National Army troops prepare for an operation against insurgents in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017. voa

In the last few weeks, at least 160 families have been displaced in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province by Islamic State attacks and fighting between U.S.-backed Afghan government forces and various militant groups.

More than 400 families have been displaced in the province in the past 10 months.

Families in the province say they left their houses to escape violence from militants.

“It’s been a few days that the IS militants have re-emerged, and a new round of firefighting has started. We had no choice but to seek refuge in deserts, under the government-controlled areas,” Khan Mohammad, a displaced man, told VOA.

Two hundred and fifty of the displaced families are from Nangarhar’s restive Pachir Wa Agam district where IS militants are active and fighting Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents over territory control.

IS militants attacked the Pachir Wa Agam district, destroyed many homes and captured more than two dozen local men last December, according to Afghan officials.

The district came under heavy airstrikes when the U.S. entered Afghanistan in pursuit of al-Qaida and the Taliban beginning in late 2001.

Attaullah Khogyani, the governor of Nangarhar’s spokesperson, downplayed the IS threat but confirmed a recent displacement of 160 families within Deh Bala district of the province.

“The reasons for displacement of these families are the current special military operation against IS militants,” he added.

An internally displaced Afghan woman who fled from recent conflict cooks bread outside a shelter in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017.
An internally displaced Afghan woman who fled from recent conflict cooks bread outside a shelter in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017. VOA

IS Reemergence

Afghan joint forces drove IS extremists out of the Pachir Wa Agam district in Nangarhar last December, and then hundreds of local men joined the central government’s security forces to help ensure that IS radicals cannot return to the area.

The Afghan Defense Ministry talked down any “serious” IS threat in the area, asserting that militants are trying to terrify unarmed locals at the behest of regional intelligence agencies. General Mohammad Radmanish told VOA that multiple military operations are under way in eastern Nangarhar province to remove remaining IS fighters.

“We will boost these military operations to provide security and wipe out the traitors. We are also starting to venture the new strategy and improvise our local army units once the areas are cleared,” Radmanish added.

During the past three years, more than 14,000 families were displaced internally in Nangarhad and only 8,000 of them have returned to their houses, Afghan authorities said.

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Joint U.S. and Afghan forces’ air and land operations killed at least 100 IS militants in the province, Afghan authorities said Tuesday. (VOA)