GILGIT: Fear gripped Gilgit-Baltistan as graffiti supporting Islamic State (IS) ultra-extremist group which has declared a self-styled caliphate over large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, appeared in the region on Sunday.
A message reading ‘Welcome to G-B ISIS’ was spray painted onto a wall in the densely populated area of Konodas in Gilgit, prompting concern among residents about the group’s presence in the picturesque tourist destination.
The wall-chalking supporting the militant group which has recently beheaded a US aid worker, was removed by authorities shortly after being reported on Sunday.
Earlier this year, messages supporting IS, commonly known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, were reported in Peshawar after pamphlets were distributed in the city.
Besides distribution of its literature and pamphlets in the insurgency-hit province, some IS supporters have also urged residents to join the group.
A local resident claimed that a similar pro-IS message was spotted on a wall in another area near Gilgit airport on Friday but was reportedly removed.
“Some people noticed it was written on the wall but nobody knew who really did it,” Essa Khan, a resident of Konodas told The Express Tribune. “As far as I know, it is not coordinated, supported by the IS. Someone inspired by their philosophy might have done that,” Khan said, referring to the message supporting the group in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
Commenting on the message, a security official said, “Such messages are aimed at fuelling panic in the area.”
He added that people affiliated with certain militant groups were spreading such messages to breed fear in the community. The official said law enforcement agencies in the area were on alert after the troubling case of vandalism in Gilgit.
Regardless of the motive behind the message, many in the area said the message was unsettling.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2014.