ISLAMABAD (AP) — An online video released Saturday purports to show former militants of the Pakistani Taliban pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and beheading a man they identify as a Pakistani soldier.
The video shows former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid along with dozens of other militants in a wooded area. Shahid already announced his support for the Islamic State group in an audio message in October. He was later replaced by the Pakistani Taliban.
Other militant leaders who identify themselves as from Afghanistan and Pakistan also pledge their support to the Islamic State group. At the end of the video, the militants behead a man they identified as a Pakistani soldier.
The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based terrorism monitor, said the video was released by the Islamic State group on Twitter and jihadi forums.
The video is sure to raise concerns about whether the Islamic State group has found support in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a region already awash with dozens of militant groups. Taliban militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan owe their allegiance to Mullah Omar, a cleric who has led the Taliban since the 1990s and hasn’t been publicly heard from for years.
The area where the video was shot was not identified but Taliban militants are known to operate in the rugged mountainous regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The militants frequently target Pakistani troops who have been carrying out missions in the country’s northwest. There was no immediate comment from Pakistan’s military or government.
The Islamic State group controls about a third of both Syria and Iraq. A U.S.-led coalition is targeting the group in airstrikes. On Saturday, the U.S. military said in a statement it carried out 12 strikes on the group in Syria and three strikes in Iraq. Eleven of the coalition airstrikes in Syria targeted Islamic State group positions around the border town of Kobani near Turkey.
Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.