ISLAMABAD (dpa) – The Islamic State militant group has appointed a former Taleban leader as its commander for Pakistan and Afghanistan in a challenge to al-Qaeda’s decade-long dominance as the main hardline group in the region.
Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Pakistani Taleban commander, would now lead Islamic State militants in the region known as Khorasan among militants, a spokesman for the group said.
“Hafiz Saeed Khan has been appointed as the governor of Khorasan province (of the Islamic State),” Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani said in an audio message posted on Twitter this week.
Khorasan is a term used by militants to describe a vast region comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of Iran and China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang province in the north-west.
It is for the first time that Islamic State, which controls large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, has spoken publicly about its intention to seek influence in the region.