PESHAWAR: Members of the Islamic State or Da’ish hide among the general population, using small businesses as a cover, a police official told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
Their approach differs from the now banned Taliban, whose members used to openly establish camps in parts of Fata and even in K-P’s settled areas, according to the official.
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There is ample evidence indicating that members of Da’ish have been operating in Peshawar for the past 18 months, actively preaching their point of view and trying to lure fresh recruits from various TTP factions.
“Members of Da’ish are present in the Jalalabad area of Afghanistan which is just a two-hour drive from Peshawar … It is no wonder that they have penetrated into Fata and subsequently into the (settled areas of) Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and elsewhere in Pakistan,” he said.
They are highly experienced in sabotage and concealment” since most members had previously belonged to the TTP, he added.
“These people hide among the (general) population and we have solid evidence suggesting that they engage in small businesses such as fruit vendors, plying pushcarts, using it as a cover, avoiding suspicion … Their strategy is mostly successful,” he said, adding that these people rent houses and move frequently to avoid detection.
He outlined a worrisome trend, saying that good Taliban had also joined Da’ish ranks. “Since they know the benefits of being Afghan Taliban, they also use it as a cover.”
“All new recruits are sent to Afghanistan … Once people know that you are fighting in Afghanistan, chances are that no policeman or anyone else will touch you simply because you are (among) ‘good Taliban’,” he maintained.
“Once, such an impression is created, when they travel to another district, most people think they are off to Afghanistan,” he said.
Terming their strategy to use small businesses a clever ruse, he said that because of this, they remain concealed.
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“Branding themselves as ‘good Taliban’, such as the Haqqani network’, is their most successful strategy … They use it to their full advantage,” he observed.
According to him, gaining a foothold in this ‘sophisticated and technologically advanced underground organisation’ was an uphill task.
“Most of them are educated, know about information technology and are really committed about hiding their ruthless actions,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2017.