Pakistan trying to verify claims of Taliban joining Al-Qaida linked group in Syria
Claim might be part of propaganda campaign to portray Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as an organization with global reach, intelligence official says.
Pakistan is trying to verify claims by homegrown Taliban that their guerrillas have joined an Al-Qaida-linked group fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops, sources said.
The Taliban claim to have sent more than 100 trained foot soldiers to fight along with anti-Assad forces, among them the Sunni hardline Al-Nusra group which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida.
Aizaz Chaudhry, a spokesperson for the Pakistani foreign ministry, said authorities were "looking into it."
Two intelligence officials told DPA Tuesday they were not convinced fighters from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan could have traveled and teamed up with the Al-Nusra Front.
Abdul Rashid Abbasi, a spokesperson for TTP, told reporters in Peshawar that another batch of fighters would travel to Syria soon.
He did not give the exact number of militants or their scheduled departure. There was no way to independently verify the claim.
Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaida, both followers of hard line anti- Shi’ite Wahabi version of Islam, have strong ideological bonds.
The TTP is among the militant groups based in Pakistani tribal belt with Afghan border which providing shelter to members of Al-Qaida from the Arab world.
One intelligence official said the militant group's claim appeared to be part of a propaganda campaign to portray TTP as an organization with global reach.