According to security officials in Quetta, Shafiq Mengal is the leader of the Islamic State in Pakistan.
He was, quite literally, home-grown by the Pakistani government and has now gone rogue, like so many of Pakistan’s proxy prodigies.
Shafiq Mengal is the son of former Pakistan state minister for petroleum and Balochistan’s caretaker chief minister, Naseer Mengal. He comes from an influential and educated family, dropped out from Aitchison College in Lahore, and later attended an extremist Sunni-Deobandi theological school.
In 2008, Shafiq Mengal organized a pro-government tribal militia known as the Baloch Musallah Difaee Tanzeem, which was considered a pawn of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and enjoyed the confidence of the local Pakistani Army Frontier Corps. The Pakistani authorities saw it as being in the vanguard of the fight against Balochistan independence insurgents. Mengals’s group soon degenerated into a local death squad, killing people for political as well as non-political, tribal or personal reasons.
Shafiq Mengal has provided protection to Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Balochistan and was known as a subcontractor of the intensely anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Sunni-Deobandi supremacist group and formal affiliate of al Qaeda. In 2016, seeking greater influence, the ambitious Mengal spent three months in Syria with ISIS and was openly recruiting for the Islamic State after his return to Pakistan.
In the wake of the Pakistani government crackdown on al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and related domestic terrorist groups, Shafiq Mengal took advantage of the power vacuum created in LeJ to become one of the…
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