Middle East (MNN) — The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and al-Qaeda are teaming up in Syria, and more Middle East groups are pledging allegiance to the caliphate.
Late last week, reports surfaced of the terrorist groups agreeing to work together in Syria instead of fighting each other. Al-Qaeda initially distanced itself from the Islamic State, but as ISIS has grown in resources and size, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda has vowed to fight with Islamic State instead of against it.
In addition, an audio clip reportedly featuring ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi acknowledged the allegiance of Muslim radicals in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria.
Meanwhile, Islamic State growth in Pakistan is going virtually unnoticed.
“More than 400 Islamic State leaders are in Pakistan. They are operating in Syria and Iraq from Pakistan,” shares *Nehemiah, the national director of Forgotten Missionaries International’s work in Pakistan.
“90% [of the] leadership [is in] Pakistan, not in Afghanistan,” he adds, recalling the U.S. hunt for al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. In 2011, Bin Laden was found and killed in his Pakistani compound by U.S. Navy Seals.
Although Taliban leaders swore allegiance to the Islamic State last month, FMI’s Bruce Allen says the Pakistani government denies an ISIS presence in their country.
“They’re saying this while they’re removing the banners, the stickers, and the posters that are announcing Islamic State is here,” Allen says.
“They’re acting like ostriches with their heads buried in the sand.”
Preparing Pakistani Christians
Based on Islamic State activity they’re seeing on-the-ground, Allen says Pakistan will soon join Iraq and Syria in the headlines.
“What we anticipate in just the next few weeks or months: there will be an attack here in Pakistan,” he states.
A Muslim doctor recently called Nehemiah and expressed concern about an Islamic State base being constructed near her home.
“She was very worried; she called me and told me [what was going on]. So, I told her, ‘Nothing to worry [about]. They are going to kill Christians first,'” Nehemiah shares.
FMI is helping national pastors prepare for challenges yet still share wisely about Christ and His salvation. A seminar they held in February–before there was any mention of Islamic State expansion into Pakistan–taught evangelical leaders how to identify and manage risks that come with sharing Christ.
Allen says he’s grateful for God’s timing, because as he visits with Pakistani leaders now, he is able to remind them of principles covered during the February seminar.
“We specifically mentioned that verse from John where Jesus says, ‘In the world you’re going to have trouble, but still be of good cheer.’ Don’t panic; don’t despair, because ‘I have overcome the world.’ So, whatever evil we encounter–and we will encounter it, Jesus is infinitely greater,” Allen notes.
“There is this hope, there is His purpose, His liberation, and that’s what needs to buoy us as we move forward.”
Your prayers are needed, too.
Pray that the forces of radical Islam are driven back, and that they would take no further territory. Pray that shelter and resources will be provided for families taking refuge throughout the Middle East. Ask God to open the eyes of Pakistan’s indigenous Christian leaders so they can prepare their congregations for challenges and encourage them in the hope of Christ.