Established By: Baitullah Mehsud
Also Known As: TTP, Taliban Movement of Pakistan
Country Of Origin: Pakistan
Leaders: Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud
Key Members: Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud
Operational Area: Pakistan, Afghanistan
Number Of Members: 25,000+
Involved In: Suicide bombing attacks, Bombing attacks, Armed attacks
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Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP; “Taliban Movement of Pakistan”), alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, is an Islamic terrorist group, which is an umbrella organization of various Sunni Islamist militant groups based in the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Pakistan. Most, but not all, Pakistani Taliban groups coalesce under the TTP. In December 2007 about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Among the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s stated objectives are resistance against the Pakistani state, enforcement of their interpretation of sharia and a plan to unite against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
The TTP is not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban movement led by Akhtar Mansour, with both groups differing greatly in their histories, strategic goals and interests although they are both predominantly Pashtun. The Afghan Taliban, with the alleged support of Pakistani Taliban, operate against international coalition and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan but are strictly opposed to targeting the Pakistani state. The TTP in contrast has almost exclusively targeted elements of the Pakistani state although it took credit for the 2009 Camp Chapman attack and the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt.
Maulana Fazlullah became the group’s new leader in late 2013. In the following year the TTP fragmented into at least four groups, with the defections said to have left the group in considerable disarray.
The roots of the TTP as an organization began in 2002 when the Pakistani military conducted incursions into the tribal areas to originally combat foreign (Afghan, Arab and Central Asian) militants fleeing from the war in Afghanistan into the neighbouring tribal areas of Pakistan.
Many of the TTP’s leaders are veterans of the fighting in Afghanistan and have supported the fight against the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force by providing soldiers, training, and logistics. In 2004 various tribal groups, as explained above, that would later form the TTP, effectively established their authority in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by concurrently engaging in military attacks and negotiating with Islamabad. By this time, the militants had killed around 200 rival tribal elders in the region to consolidate control. Several Pakistani analysts also cite the inception of U.S. missile strikes in the FATA as a catalyzing factor in the rise of tribal militancy in the area. More specifically they single out an October 2006 strike on a madrassah in Bajaur that was run by the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi as a turning point.
In December 2007, the existence of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was officially announced under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud.
On 25 August 2008, Pakistan banned the group, froze its bank accounts and assets, and barred it from media appearances. The government also announced that bounties would be placed on prominent leaders of the TTP.
In late December 2008 and early January 2009, Mullah Omar sent a delegation, led by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Abdullah Zakir, to persuade leading members of the TTP to put aside differences and aid the Afghan Taliban in combating the American presence in Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, and Maulavi Nazir agreed in February and formed the Shura Ittehadul Mujahideen (SIM), also transliterated as Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahideen and translated into English as the Council of United Mujahedeen. In a written statement circulated in a one-page Urdu-language pamphlet, the three affirmed that they would put aside differences to fight American-led forces and reasserted their allegiance to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. However, the SIM did not last very long and collapsed shortly after its announcement.
On 1 September 2010, the United States designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and identified Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur-Rehman as specially designated global terrorists. The designation of the TTP as an FTO makes it a crime to provide support or to do business with the group and also allows the U.S. to freeze its assets. The US State Department also issued a $5 million reward for information on the two individuals’ locations.
In January 2011, the British government moved to classify the TTP as a banned terrorist organization under its Terrorism Act 2000. In July 2011, the Canadian government also added the TTP to its list of banned terrorist organizations.
The TTP differs in structure to the Afghan Taliban in that it lacks a central command and is a much looser coalition of various militant groups, united by hostility towards the central government in Islamabad. Several analysts describe the TTP’s structure as a loose network of dispersed constituent groups that vary in size and in levels of coordination.The various factions of the TTP tend to be limited to their local areas of influence and often lack the ability to expand their operations beyond that territory.
In its original form, the TTP had Baitullah Mehsud as its amir. He was followed in the leadership hierarchy by Hafiz Gul Bahadur as naib amir, or deputy. Faqir Mohammed was the third most influential leader. The group contained members from all of FATA’s seven tribal agencies as well as several districts of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), including Swat, Bannu, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner, and Malakand. Some 2008 estimates placed the total number of operatives at 30–35,000, although it is difficult to judge the reliability of such estimates.
In the aftermath of Baitullah Mehsud’s death, the organization experienced turmoil among its leading militants. By the end of August 2009, however, leading members in the TTP had confirmed Hakimullah Mehsud as its second amir. Government and some TTP sources told the media that Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in January 2010 by injuries sustained during a U.S. drone attack. Unconfirmed reports from Orakzai Agency stated, after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, Malik Noor Jamal, alias Maulana Toofan, had assumed leadership of the TTP until the group determined how to proceed.
Reuters, citing a report from The Express Tribune, indicated in July 2011 that Hakimullah Mehsud’s grip on the TTP leadership was weakening after the defection of Fazal Saeed Haqqani, the Taliban leader in the Kurram region, from the umbrella militant group. Haqqani cited disagreements over attacks on civilians as reason for the split. The paper quoted an associate of Mehsud’s as saying that “it looks as though he is just a figurehead now… He can hardly communicate with his commanders in other parts of the tribal areas … he is in total isolation. Only a few people within the TTP know where he is.”
A December 2011 report published in The Express Tribune further described the network as “crumbling” with “funds dwindling and infighting intensifying.” According to various TTP operatives, the difficulties stemmed from differences of opinion within TTP leadership on pursuing peace talks with Islamabad. In December 2012 senior Pakistan military officials told Reuters that Hakimullah Mehsud had lost control of the group and that Wali-ur-Rehman was expected to be formally announced as the head of the TTP. However a video released later in the month showed Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman seated next to each other, with Mehsud calling reports of a split between the two as propaganda
In a May 2010 interview, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus described the TTP’s relationship with other militant groups as difficult to decipher: “There is clearly a symbiotic relationship between all of these different organizations: al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, TNSM [Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi]. And it’s very difficult to parse and to try to distinguish between them. They support each other, they coordinate with each other, sometimes they compete with each other, [and] sometimes they even fight each other. But at the end of the day, there is quite a relationship between them.”
Director of National Intelligence and United States Navy Admiral, Dennis C. Blair, told U.S. senators that the Pakistani state and army meanwhile draw clear distinctions among different militant groups.While links exist between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the two groups are distinct enough for the Pakistani military to be able to view them very differently. American officials said that the S Wing of the Pakistani ISI provided direct support to three major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Afghan Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, commanded by Mullah Muhammad Omar; the militant network run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; and a different group run by the guerrilla leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, all considered a strategic asset by Pakistan in contrast to the TTP run by Hakimullah Mehsud, which has engaged the Pakistani army in combat
The Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan differ greatly in their history, leadership and goals although they are both predominantly Pashtun. The two groups are distinct, though linked, movements. An Afghan Taliban spokesman told The New York Times: “We don’t like to be involved with them, as we have rejected all affiliation with Pakistani Taliban fighters … We have sympathy for them as Muslims, but beside that, there is nothing else between us.” Peshawar-based security analyst Brigadier (retd) Muhamaad Saad believes the Taliban are not a monolithic entity. “They can be divided into three broad categories: [Afghan] Kandahari Taliban, led by Mullah Omar; [Afghan] Paktia Taliban, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani; and [Pakistani] Salfi Taliban [TTP],” he said. “It’s the Salfi Taliban who pose a real threat to Pakistan. They may not be obeying the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar.” Some regional experts state that the common name “Taliban” may be more misleading than illuminating. Gilles Dorronsoro of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace believes that “[t]he fact that they have the same name causes all kinds of confusion.”As the Pakistani Army began offensives against the Pakistani Taliban, many unfamiliar with the region mistakenly thought that the assault was against the Afghan Taliban of Mullah Omar.
Although the TTP has claimed allegiance with the Afghan Taliban in the Afghan Taliban’s insurgency in Afghanistan, the two groups have no direct affiliation. The TTP has almost exclusively targeted elements of the Pakistani state. The Afghan Taliban however have historically relied on support from the Pakistani army in their campaign to control Afghanistan. Regular Pakistani army troops fought alongside the Afghan Taliban in the War in Afghanistan (1996–2001). Major leaders of the Afghan Taliban including Mullah Omar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Siraj Haqqani are believed to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan. In 2006, Jalaluddin Haqqani was called a ‘Pakistani asset’ by a senior official of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Pakistan regards the Haqqanis as an important force for protecting its interests in Afghanistan and therefore has been unwilling to move against them.
Before the creation of the TTP some of their leaders and fighters were among the 10,000 Pakistani, Arab and Central Asian militants fighting as part of a 25,000 force in the War in Afghanistan (1996–2001) and the War in Afghanistan (2001-present) against the anti-Taliban United Islamic Front and NATO forces. A 1998 U.S. State Department report stated that “20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers [were] Pakistani.”After the fall of the Afghan Taliban in late 2001, many Pakistani Taliban militants, including members of today’s TTP, sought refuge in Pakistan. Afghan Taliban maintaining contacts to Pakistan’s ISI also fled for Pakistan where they regrouped, maintain safe havens and training camps and from where they launched their insurgency in Afghanistan. Members of the two groups easily cross back and forth across the border between the two countries. A journalist embedded with Canadian troops in Kandahar Province in the summer of 2006 indicated that “Pakistani Taliban were routinely captured” at the time. Captured fighters admitted to being recruited and trained in Pakistan.
In 2007, Pakistani militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud created the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and killed around 200 rival Pakistani leaders. They officially defined goals to establish their rule over Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas subsequently engaging the Pakistani army in heavy combat operations. Intelligence analysts believe that these TTP’s attacks on the Pakistani government, police and army strained relations between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban. Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar asked the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in late 2008 and early 2009 to stop attacks inside Pakistan, to change their focus as an organization and to fight the Afghan National Army and ISAF forces in Afghanistan instead.
In February 2009, the three dominant Pakistani Taliban leaders agreed to put aside their differences to help counter a planned increase in American troops in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their allegiance to Mullah Omar (and to Osama bin Laden). The agreement among the TTP leaders was short-lived, however, and instead of fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban the rival Pakistani factions soon engaged in combat with each other.
In early January 2012, TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan announced that rival Taliban groups had made a new attempt to unite under a five-member council called the Shura-e-Murakeba at the behest of Mullah Omar. The TTP, he said, had agreed to Mullah Omar’s demand to end suicide attacks, attacks against the Pakistani military, kidnappings for ransom, and the killing of innocent Pakistanis so that they could help focus on US forces in Afghanistan. Among the factions in the agreement were those led by Hakimullah Mehsud, Maulvi Nazir, Waliur Rahman, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Siraj Haqqani.
Recently following the TTP’s Peshawar school massacre Afghan taliban leader’s condemned the TTP’s actions on the school, saying it was “Un-Islamic” Future relations between the Afghan Taliban and TTP are unknown.
Campaign of violence
-The Pakistani government implicated the network in the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto although the group denies the charge. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also confirmed its belief of TTP’s involvement in January 2008.
-The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariate-Mohammadi (TNSM) claimed responsibility for a 23 December 2007 suicide bombing targeting a military convoy on behalf of the TTP. The blast in the Mingora area of the Swat Valley killed five soldiers and six civilians.
-TTP spokesman Maulvi Umar claimed that the group was responsible for 21 August 2008 suicide bomb attack on a military complex.
-TTP claimed responsibility for the 23 August 2008 Swat Valley bombing.
-Someone using the name Abdur Rehman claimed that the TTP was behind a 6 November 2008 suicide bombing that targeted tribal elders, who had gathered in the Bajaur tribal area to discuss efforts to coordinate with the government against the Pakistani Taliban. The blast took the lives of 16 and injured 31.
-On 13 November 2008, the TTP intercepted a military convoy along the Khyber Pass bound for NATO troops in Afghanistan.
-In telephone interviews with news media Mehsud claimed responsibility for the 30 March 2009 attack on the police training academy in Lahore. He told the BBC that the attack was in retaliation for continued missile strikes from American drones for which the Pakistani government shared responsibility. In the same interview Mehsud claimed two other attacks: a 25 March attack on an Islamabad police station and a 30 March suicide attack on a military convoy near Bannu.
-Mehsud claimed responsibility for the Binghamton shootings, stating that they were in retaliation for continued missile strikes from American drones. The FBI denied this claim and stated this had nothing to do with Mehsud.
-Azam Tariq, spokesman of the TTP, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a security checkpoint along the Pakistan-Afghan border near Torkham on 27 August 2009. Tariq said by telephone that the attack was the first in retaliation for the death of Baitullah Mehsud. Although the exact number of casualties was unknown, a doctor at a nearby hospital told Dawn News that they had received 22 bodies and local people working at the blast site said they had retrieved 13 bodies.
-Azam Tariq claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed five at the UN’s World Food Programme Islamabad offices on 5 October 2009.
-The TTP, through Azam Tariq, claimed responsibility for the October 2009 attack on the army’s headquarters at Rawalpindi. Tariq told the Associated Press that the attack was carried out by its “Punjabi faction” although the military insisted the attack originated in South Waziristan.
-The militant group claimed responsibility for three separate coordinated attacks in Lahore. 10 militants targeted buildings used by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Manawan Police Training School and the Elite Police Academy.
-The Pakistani Taliban, as well as the Afghan Taliban, claimed responsibility for the 30 December 2009 attack on Camp Chapman, a base of operations for the CIA, inside Khost Province, Afghanistan. The TTP released a video of Hakimullah Mehsud sitting next to the suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian national who had been working with the CIA. In the video, al-Balawi states that the attack is in retaliation for the killing of Baitullah Mehsud. Many analysts doubted that the TTP acted alone.
-In a video posting on YouTube, Qari Hussain claimed that the TTP was behind the May 2010 attempted car bomb in New York City’s Times Square. (Previously the TTP had claimed responsibility for a shooting at an immigrant centre in NY, but it was dismissed as a hoax claim)
-An attack on two minority mosques in Lahore during May 2010 was claimed by the Taliban.
-In July 2010, the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Mohmand Agency. Two blasts occurred outside a senior government official’s office as people gathered to receive relief supplies. As many as 56 people died and at least 100 suffered injuries.
-On 4 October 2010 the TTP claimed responsibility for an attack near Islamabad on fuel tankers bound for NATO troops in Afghanistan.
-In December 2010, the TTP claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing upon administrative buildings in the Mohmand district’s Ghalalnai village. The blast killed 40–50 people. The purported head of the TTP in Mohmand, Omar Khalid, claimed responsibility in a telephone call with the AFP. The military’s chief spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas indicated to Al Jazeera that the TTP attackers were based in neighboring Afghanistan.
-In December 2010, the TTP in South Waziristan kidnapped 23 tribesmen who had recently attended meetings with the Pakistani military.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for a 15 January 2011 attack on NATO fuel tankers likely bound for the border crossing town of Chaman. Azam Tariq told the AP, “We have assigned our fighters to go after NATO supply tankers wherever in Pakistan.”
-On 31 January 2011 Azam Tariq, on behalf of the TTP, claimed responsibility of a suicide bombing in Peshawar that targeted police. The blast killed 5 people (3 police and 2 civilians) and injured 11.
-On 10 February 2011 the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at an army compound in Mardan that killed at least 31 people. Azam Tariq told the AFP that the attack was in response to repeated U.S. drone attacks and military incursions in the tribal areas. He also threatened further attacks against “those who protect the Americans”.
-The TTP released a video of the execution of a former ISI officer known as Colonel Imam. The TTP said they had carried out the murder on 17 February 2011. His body was found near Mir Ali, North Waziristan.
-On 8 March 2011 a car bomb explosion at a gas station in Faisalabad killed at least 32 and injured 125. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility and stated that the intended target was a nearby ISI office. He said that the attack was in retaliation for the death of a Taliban commander the previous year.
-On 9 March 2011 a suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession in Peshawar. The procession consisted of many anti-Taliban militiamen. Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the Pakistani Taliban had carried out the attack because the militiamen had allied themselves with the Pakistani government and, by extension, the United States.
-On 4 April 2011 two suicide bombers attacked a Sufi shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan. The bombings occurred while thousands of devotees were gathered for the annual Urs celebrations at the shrine. The attack left more than 50 people dead, as well as 120 wounded. The Pakistani Taliban are ideologically opposed to Sufism and claimed responsibility soon after the attacks.
-Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for two remotely detonated explosions that targeted two Pakistani Navy buses in Karachi on 26 April 2011.
-Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for a 28 April 2011 attack upon a Pakistani Navy bus in Karachi that killed 5.
-On 13 May 2011 the TTP claimed responsibility for a dual suicide bomb attacks on a Frontier Constabulary (FC) headquarters in Shabqadar, a town about 30 kilometers north of Peshawar, in Charsadda District. The attack killed more than 80 and injured at least 115 people. Most of the casualties were FC cadets. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed that the attack was retribution for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for a 22 May 2011 attack on a naval station in Karachi.
-A suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden pickup truck into a Peshawar police building on 25 May 2011. The blast killed six and wounded 30. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
-On 13 September 2011, five militants with assault rifles and rockets attacked a school bus, killing the driver, four boys aged 10 to 15, and wounding two seven-year-old girls. TTP claimed responsibility.
-On 1 December 2011 the TTP claimed responsibility for the death of Hashim Zaman, an anti-TTP tribal leader, who was killed in Hangu.
-TTP militants abducted 15 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers on 23 December 2011 from a fort in Mullazai. TTP spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan announced on 5 January 2012 that the militant group had executed the 15 paramilitary soldiers. The bodies were recovered close to a ravine and were mutilated according to locals.On 22 January 2012 the TTP released a video showing the execution of the 15 soldiers.
-Ahmed Marwat, a spokesman for a Jandola faction of the TTP, claimed to Reuters that Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent suspected of killing seven people in Toulouse, France, had received TTP training in North Waziristan. However, Marwat denied the TTP’s involvement in the shootings, and the head of French intelligence indicated they had no evidence that Merah belonged to any militant Islamist group. Pakistani officials allege that the TTP trained 85 French nationals between 2009 and 2012.
-The TTP Khyber Agency faction claimed responsibility for a 23 March 2012 bombing that targeted a mosque, run by Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), in Kolay village of Tirah Valley. The blast killed more than a dozen people and injured at least six others. A TTP spokesman told reporters that the attacks against the LeI would continue.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for an 5 April 2012 suicide bombing targeting a police vehicle in Karachi. The blast killed two and injured nine.
-On 15 April 2012 the TTP claimed responsibility for a prison break in Bannu. 384 convicts escaped although many were later recaptured.
-A suicide bomb on 4 May 2012 killed 24 and wounded at least 45 in a Bajaur market . The TTP claimed responsibility.
-The Malakand branch of the TTP claimed responsibility for 24 June 2012 attacks on Pakistani security checkpoints near the Afghan border. 13 Pakistani troops were reportedly killed while 14 militants died. The Pakistani military alleged that the militants had crossed over from Afghanistan, but the TTP did not confirm in claiming responsibility. The TTP also denied that it had taken casualties.
-On 25 June 2012 the TTP claimed responsibility for gunfire on Aaj News TV, a local station in Karachi. Two were injured. Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the TTP was upset that it was not receiving coverage equal to that of the Pakistani military and government.
-On 9 July 2012 miltants linked to the TTP attacked an army camp near Gujrat city that killed seven soldiers and a policeman. A pamphlet found at the scene indicated that attacks against government installations would continue as long as Pakistan allowed NATO to use its territory to transport supplies into Afghanistan.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for an 16 August 2012 attack on the Minhas Airbase in Kamra. The two-hour firefight resulted in the deaths of nine insurgents and two soldiers. Three other soldiers were wounded.
-On 16 August 2012 militants removed 22 Shiites from buses and executed them in Mansehra District. The Darra Adam Khel faction of the TTP claimed responsibility in a telephone interview with Reuters.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for the 9 October 2012 school-bus shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a young activist blogger, and two other schoolgirls. Supporting the attack, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan stated “whom so ever leads a campaign against Islam and Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah.” He added that it is “not just allowed … but obligatory in Islam” to kill such a person involved “in leading a campaign against Shariah… .”
-The TTP claimed responsibility for the 2014 Jinnah International Airport attack, which was carried out jointly with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The militants who participated in the attack were Uzbek foreigners.
-The TTP claimed responsibility for the 2014 Peshawar school attack which claimed 141 lives, including 132 school children between eight and 18 years of age, with the remaining nine fatalities being staff members of the school.
-A commander within the TTP claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University attack, in which at least thirty students and teachers were killed by as yet unidentified gunmen. However, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Taliban denied the group’s involvement.