ISLAMABAD: Haji Daud Mehsud, a senior leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has declared allegiance to Daesh or the Islamic State that could be seen as a serious setback for the TTP and a boost for IS-Khorasan (IS-K) region just two weeks after the US airstrikes killed the IS-K leader Abu Sayed in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. Daud, who belongs to Haibat Khel tribe in South Waziristan, has served as the Karachi TTP chief. Tribal journalists who are aware of the TTP affairs say he is the first senior Mehsud within the Taliban to join Daesh. He was one of the few trusted men of the TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in Miranshah in November 2013. Hakeemullah group had appointed Daud as the Karachi chief, where he had previously served in the Sindh Police Department, according to a TTP source. A militant source said that Daud’s differences with another top leader Khan Said Sajna surfaced even when Hakeemullah was alive and he could have parted ways with the TTP as Sajna has rejoined the TTP and Daud was uncomfortable with Sajna. Sources say Sajna is currently the TTP’s deputy chief, replacing Sheikh Khalid Haqqani. Splinter Mehsud factions had been involved in infighting after Hakeemullah’s death that had reportedly claimed the lives of dozens of militants. Several militants, who are considered confidants of Daud, have confirmed to the tribal journalists that Daud has joined Daesh and that he has moved to the group’s controlled areas in Afghanistan along with his family. A militant leader told Daily Times the TTP leader has declared allegiance to Daesh; however, neither Daud, nor Daesh has confirmed the decision. He said the confirmation could come if Daud is given any responsibility. Sources close to Daesh say militant groups have now adopted a policy to keep the identity of the newly appointed leaders over security concerns. They also try to give senior positions to those who are not well known to keep their identity secret in view of the killing of three Daesh chiefs in Afghanistan in US drone strikes in one year. Abdul Haseeb Logari, successor of Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a drone strike in Nangarhar in May, while Hafiz Saeed Khan was eliminated along with several top leaders in July last year also in Nangarhar. Saeed Khan, who belonged to Orakzai Agency, was the central council member of the TTP until he and several other commanders declared allegiance to Daesh in 2014. Some Taliban leaders had opposed Daud appointment as the TTP’s Karachi chief because of his police background, but Hakeemullah had rejected objections. This had created differences between Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman. Daud was among the close confidants of Hakeemullah and would financially help some Taliban leaders that had made him popular among the Taliban in a short period, according to correspondents in the tribal areas. There had once been rumours about his death but they were false. Sources say Daesh had also invited other TTP members, especially militants linked to Hakeemullah faction, but it did not work. Some close friends of Daud did not support his decision but he ignored opposition to his decision, they said. Published in Daily Times, July 31st , 2017.