ISIL Could be the Big Winner of Taliban Leadership Crisis

“The implications of Mullah Omar’s death are still being parsed by the Afghan Taliban’s splintering factions, which are reportedly disputing the Shura Council’s chosen successor, and by stakeholders in the country’s nascent peace process, which now appears to be in shambles. But the death of the former Taliban chief, who as “Commander of the Faithful” was considered both the spiritual and military leader of like-minded insurgents across South Asia, could be a recruiting boon for a rising force in the region: The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.”

“Since at least January, ISIL has been operating a franchise along the Afghan-Pakistan border, which it calls the “Khorasan province,” so-named for the ancient land that now encompasses both countries. Led initially by a former Pakistani Taliban commander, the group is said to be composed mainly of disaffected fighters from the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. Many of them had lost faith in the reclusive Mullah Omar — who, Afghan officials said this week, has been dead since 2013 — and pledged their allegiance to ISIL’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“Now analysts suspect the death of Mullah Omar, confirmed by the Taliban on Thursday, will open the door for mass defections from the Taliban and perhaps even Al-Qaeda, since the religiously binding bayat — declarations of loyalty — that flow downward from the late Taliban leader to sub-commanders within these networks will be in question.” (Coordination Center)


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