They take their nuance seriously.
The Taliban have threatened to kill the former Pakistan cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan if he holds a planned march to their tribal stronghold along the Afghan border to protest US drone attacks.
Although the Pakistani Taliban also oppose the strikes, which have killed many of their fighters, spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said they would target Mr Khan because he calls himself a “liberal” – a term they associate with a lack of religious belief. He also warned they would attack anyone who participates in forthcoming elections.
“If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him,” Ahsan told The Associated Press in an interview in the militant group’s stronghold of South Waziristan. “We will kill him.”
The threat could come as a surprise to many in Pakistan who have criticised Mr Khan for not being tough enough on the Pakistani Taliban and instead focusing most of his criticism on the government’s alliance with the US.
Some of his critics have nicknamed him “Taliban Khan” because of his views and his cosy ties with conservative Islamists who could help him attract right-wing voters in national elections likely to be held later this year or early next year.
He has described himself as a liberal in various TV interviews, but he has also made clear that he is a practicing Muslim.
Ahsan, the Taliban spokesman, seemed to ignore that distinction and said the militants did not want Mr Khan’s help in opposing drone attacks. Khan has said he is planning to lead thousands of people in a march to Waziristan in September to demonstrate against the strikes.
“We will not accept help or sympathy from any infidel,” said Ahsan. “We can fight on our own with the help of God,” he said, as drones buzzed overhead.