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Islamic State Growing in Pakistan

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Pakistani demonstrators shout slogans beside a burning US flag. (Photo: S.S. MIRZA / AFP / Getty Images)

Last week the Islamic State flag was hoisted over a major highway in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad with the slogan, “The Caliphate is Coming!” While Pakistani government officials insist ISIS poses no threat, a report by The Diplomat suggests that ISIS is growing stronger in Pakistan.

The report notes that Islamabad has more religious seminaries than schools, and that, “The Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), a controversial religious seminary in Islamabad, continues to operate even after openly supporting the Islamic State and their version of Islam, which the mosque’s leadership wants to implement in Pakistan.”

The warning was echoed by Col. Lawrence Sellin (ret.) in The Daily Caller. Citing an ISIS cell that was uncovered two weeks ago as evidence of ISIS growth, Sellin noted, “The common thread in the growth of Islamic extremism in Pakistan is its four-decade, official policy to harness Sunni militancy to suppress ethnic separatism and religious diversity domestically and advance its regional interests, particularly against Hindu India, Shia Iran and the perceived threat posed by Pashtun nationalism in Afghanistan.”

Sellin cited the example of Shafiq Mengal, the son of a former Pakistani government minister, as a case study of the links between the government and extremists. Mengal was commissioned to command a pro-government tribal militia to crush resistance in Balochistan in 2008, but later switched sides and became a terrorist. He is now believed to command 500-1,000 jihadis across Pakistan and Afghanistan and may be working for ISIS.

 

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.