The Pakistani government’s 10-month onslaught in an area of the country once overrun by terror groups has pushed many fighters toward ISIS, one of the fledgling group’s leaders told NBC News.

“The military operation in North Waziristan by the Pakistan army has helped us a lot,” said Mufti Hassan Swati, who claims to be the deputy head of ISIS in Pakistan. “Hundreds of militants quit their groups and joined us [after it started]. Initially we had some problems of resources in running the organization but we have enough resources now.”

Swati, who previously led the Pakistani Taliban’s (TTP) branch in the city of Peshawar, was among a group of militants who opposed peace talks with the government. The group helped unleash a wave of suicide attacks that killed and maimed hundreds in the second half of 2013.

According to Swati, the new ISIS chapter was being led by Hafiz Saeed Khan from its headquarters in Baloshistan, a lawless and desperately poor Pakistani province.