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Threat Actor Profile - Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)


Overview

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, is an umbrella organization of various Islamist armed militant groups operating along the Afghan–Pakistani border. The TTP has maintained a close relationship with al-Qaeda, from which it draws ideological and tactical guidance. The groups have shared money, training, and bomb makers, and have a symbiotic operational relationship. The TTP offers a safe haven in the remote tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and in return, al-Qaeda provides access to its deep network of operatives.


This organization is one of the deadliest militant outfits in the world and its inception traces back to the American intervention in Afghanistan following 9/11. A group of radicals led by Baitullah Mehsud started a movement inside Pakistan to support the Afghan Taliban against Western forces and waged a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani state. In December 2007, 13 groups united under the leadership of Mehsud to form the TTP in South Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and vowed to wage defensive jihad against opposition forces - mainly NATO forces and the Pakistan Army.


Despite fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban for the past 20 years and sharing a common ideology, the TTP has wholly separate operations and command structures. Unlike their Afghani neighbors, the TTP command structure is a loose network of dispersed constituent groups. As of 2022, the United Nations has estimated that 3,000-5,500 TTP members operate in Afghanistan.1


A number of Pakistani military offensives, U.S. drone strikes, and factional infighting led to the TTP’s decline from 2014 to 2018. It was at this time that TTP numbers dwindled and many fighters joined the ranks of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP). This decline however would not last, and the TTP has seen a major resurgence since the Afghan Taliban and the U.S. government signed a peace deal in February 2020. Ten militant groups opposed to the Pakistani state have since merged with the TTP, including, among others, three Pakistani affiliates of al-Qaeda and four major factions that had separated from the TTP in 2014.2 TTP violence has sharply risen since these mergers and continues to accelerate following the Afghan Taliban’s consolidation of power in August 2021.

The US Department of State placed the TTP on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations on September 1, 2010, and has since been acknowledged as a terrorist organization by Britain and Canada. In 2011, the United Nations Security Council also added the group to its anti-terrorism sanctions list.


The TTP also operates a propaganda arm called "Umar Media" which shows a behind-the-scenes look at Taliban attacks, featured in Pashto with Urdu subtitles. The produced videos serve as a recruitment tool for the organization.


As of June 2022, the TTP has agreed to an indefinite ceasefire with Pakistan. This deal was mediated by the Afghan Taliban and more extensive peace negotiations are being discussed.3

 

Notable Attacks



  • December 2007 - Suspected of being involved in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

  • December 2009 - Suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khowst, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens.

  • April 2010 - Suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens.

  • May 2010 - Directed and facilitated the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to detonate an explosive device in New York City's Times Square.

  • 2011 - A series of suicide bombings and strikes targeted civilians, Pakistani government and military targets, and an American consulate convoy.

  • 2012 - Carried out attacks against a mosque, a police checkpoint, a Pakistani Air Force base, and a bus carrying Shia Muslims.

  • 2013 - Attacked churches, the home of a government minister in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, and a Shia neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan. TTP's attacks in 2013 killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and Pakistani government and law enforcement officials.

  • 2014 - Targeted military and police convoys, bazaars, buses, and schools including two consecutive attacks against Karachi's international airport and a siege on a primary school in Peshawar, Pakistan that killed 145 people, 132 of whom were children.

  • 2015 - Focused many of its small-scale attacks on Pakistani government and law enforcement officials by targeting convoys, government buildings, motorcades, and police checkpoints. The group also bombed a Shia mosque near Peshawar and carried out suicide bombings at two churches in Lahore.

  • 2016 - The group continued carrying out attacks, claiming responsibility for a December attack that left the Deputy Superintendent of the police counterterrorism department dead and his son injured in an attack on their vehicle in Peshawar.

  • January 2017 - An IED placed in a vegetable crate exploded at a vegetable market in Parachinar. The blast killed at least 25 people and injured at least 87 others

  • February 2018 - A TTP terrorist blew himself up during a volleyball match in Swat valley, killing 11 soldiers.

  • 2020 - TTP claimed responsibility for 79 attacks that killed 100 and injured at least 206. 80 Pakistan soldiers were also killed in these attacks.

  • April 2021 - TTP claimed responsibility for a bomb explosion in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel in Quetta, killing four people and wounding 12 others. News reports suggested that the target was the Chinese ambassador.

 

Alliances

  • Afghan Taliban

  • Islamic State

  • Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi

  • Islamic State Khorasan group

  • Jundallah

  • Al-Qaeda

  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

  • Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

  • Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan

 

Leadership

  • Emir (Chief) of TTP

  • Baitullah Mehsud (2007–2009)

  • Hakimullah Mehsud (2009–2013)

  • Fazal Hayat (2013–2018)

  • Noor Wali Mehsud (2018-Present)

  • Muzahim (Mufti Hazrat) – Naib emir (deputy chief) of TTP

  • Omar Khalid Khorasani - Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction

  • Hafiz Gul Bahadur – Powerful faction in North Waziristan

  • Aleem Khan Khushali - Faction active in North Waziristan

  • Muhammad Khurasani – Central spokesman of TTP

 

1https://www.voanews.com/a/how-afghanistan-s-militant-groups-are-evolving-under-taliban-rule/6492194.html

2https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/12/21/evolution-and-future-of-tehrik-e-taliban-pakistan-pub-86051

3https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/pakistani-government-and-tehreek-e-taliban-pakistan-agree-on-indefinite-ceasefire/ar-AAXVEy9

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