Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

FormedDecember 13, 2007
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackDecember 21, 2007: Suicide attack in a mosque aimed at Pakistan's former Minister of Interior, Aftab Sherpao. The attack took place in District Charsadda of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (50 killed, 100 wounded). [1]
Last AttackJuly 15, 2010: Suicide car bomb on a checkpoint in Mingora, District Swat (5 killed, 47 wounded).[2]
UpdatedAugust 7, 2012

Narrative Summary

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the largest militant group in Pakistan. The organization was founded on December 13, 2007, in a meeting of tribal elders and 40 senior militants throughout Pakistan. Attendees represented 24 districts, seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions of the North West region of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).[3] 

The overall strength of the organization at the time of its formation was 40,000-50,000.[4] Baitullah Mehsud was appointed the commander of TTP, with the title of emir. Mehsud had perviously pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban in Afghanistan, in 2005.[5] Upon the formation of TTP, the Shura (council) upheld that pledge by declaring Mullah Omer as their supreme leader.[6] By doing so, TTP declared itself to be an extension of the Taliban movement of Afghanistan. 

From the statements at the time, the main goal behind TTP's establishment was to unite the various factions of the Pakistan Taliban in order to organize synchronized attacks on NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan. The group also carries out "defensive jihad" against Pakistani military forces conducting operations in FATA.[7] In an Al Jazeera interview, Baitullah Mehsud ratified these goals and went on to suggest that TTP will attack United States and Great Britain, impose Islamic law throughout Pakistan, and wage Jihad against Pakistan Army.[8] The group specifically targets Pakistani government and coalition-sympathizing targets within Pakistan, though more recently they have expanded to attempting attacks on foreign soil.

TTP has strong links to al-Qaeda. Baitullah Mehsud admitted to al-Qaeda's role in the group's formation indirectly in an interview. He stated that the formation of TTP was delayed because of challenges in uniting the local militias, and the assistance needed from Arabs and Uzbek fighters.[9] TTP has allegedly received funds from al-Qaeda and also trains and plans attacks with the group.[10]  Al Qaeda enjoys significant clout in TTP; it is represented on the central councils of TTP by Arab fighters.[11]  The Pakistani government accused TTP to have been involved in the December 2007 murder of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. US intelligence sources confirmed accusations and the role of Baitullah Mehsud with Al Qaeda's help, but TTP denied any involvement.[12]

TTP has since faced action by the Pakistan Army against it. When attacked, the group typically reacts with attacks in Pakistan's urban areas. It was able to gain complete control of the Swat valley as a result of a peace agreement with the Government of Pakistan in 2009. The group also governed in many Taliban-controlled parts of FATA. 

TTP has, more recently, demonstrated its will and capacity to strike beyond the borders of Pakistan. On December 30, 2009, TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack took place on a CIA station in Khost, Afghanistan. Subsequently, to prove the claim, TTP released a video with the suicide bomber Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi and Hakimullah Mehsud, the then commander of TTP.[13]  In May 2010, the FBI arrested a man from the JFK Airport in connection with a failed bomb plot in Times Square in New York City. The man, Faisal Shehzad, pleaded guilty to the charge and conceded that the plot was supported and facilitated by TTP.[14] 

Many officials believe TTP poses a major security challenge to Pakistan and NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan.  With its international ambitions, it is thought to also present a risk to the United States. It remains important to note, however, that the TTP and Afghan Taliban are two separate entities, with separate goals, sources of support/militia, and ideology.

Leadership

Baitullah Mehsud pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban in Afghanistan, in 2005.[15] Upon formation of the TTP, the Quetta Shura Council in Afghanistan upheld that pledge by declaring Mullah Omer as their 'Ameer-ul-Momineen' (Supreme Leader).[16] By doing so, TTP declared itself to be an extension of the Taliban movement of Afghanistan. 

With a fighting force of 3000-10000 men at their disposal, some prominent field commanders of the newly absorbed cadres  (2007) were Wali ur Rehman Mehsud, Dr Ismail, Maulana Abdullah, Saeedur Rehman, Shah Sahib, Omar Khalid, Haji Sahib Turangzai, Momin Afridi, Mufti Ilyas, Hamza Afridi, Hakimullah Mehsud, Kamran Mustafa Hijrat etc.[17] 

TTP's leadership cadres were divided along their tribal loyalties. Leading the fighters from the Ahmadzai Wazirs, Maulvi Nazeer was dicey in his support to TTP fighters of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan agency. He was cooperative with the Pakistan Army and Pakistani state assets, even in times when the TTP came under attack.[18] Another important Taliban leader who has preferred to remain neutral in fighting involving the Pakistan Army is Mullah Sadiq Noor. Hafiz Gulbahadar of the North Waziristan Agency also had differences with Baitullah Mehsud, and up till now has a functioning peace accord with the Pakistan Army.[19]

  1. Maulana Faqir Muhammed (2007 to Present): Muhammed was the commander of Bajur Agency and is now the Deputy Commander of mainstream TTP.[20]
  2. Hafiz Gul Bahadur (December 2007 to Present): Bahdadur was the deputy commander of North Waziristan Agency. He is considered non-cooperative.[21]
  3. Maulvi Nazir (December 2007 to Present): Nazir is a deputy TTP commander, considered one of the most powerful in the organization. Hailing from the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe of South Waiziristan, Maulvi Nazir's support to TTP in 2009 was of strategic significance. It greatly augmented TTP's defenses against Pakistan Army's imminent operation in South Waziristan, and also sent out a strong message to Western capitals of TTP's capability and strength.[22]
  4. Qari Hussain (December 2007 to Present): Hussain is a commander and is considered one of the most high profile TTP militants. Hussain has long been Baitullah's most feared lieutenant from Waziristan; US Consulate in Peshawar considers him to be one of six most high profile militants. He became prominent in the mid- to late-2000s when he accepted responsibility for many high profile sabotage actions, particularly in the wake of Pakistan's July 2007 operation on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad. These actions included suicide bombings in NWFP, kidnapping of FC personnel, and an attack on the residence of the Political Agent of Khyber Agency, killing many of his relatives and guests. [23]
  5. Baitullah Mehsud (December 2007 to 2009): Mehsud was the first emir and commander of TTP. He was killed in an American missile strike in 2009.[24]
  6. Hakimullah Mehsud (August 2009 to Present): Mehsud is the current emir of TTP following his cousin Baitullah's death. He reportedly escaped a US drone strike in January 2010. Mehsud came to prominence in 2008, initially commanding TTP forces assisting Sunni militants who were fighting Shia militants in Kurram and the neighboring Hangu district. His activities quickly spread to Orakzai, where he masterminded an October 2008 suicide bombing of a jirga that killed over fifty tribal maliks and broke virtually all organized resistance to TTP control in most of the agency. By early December 2008, his men in Khyber were launching regular raids on trucking depots around Peshawar and burning hundreds of trucks containing supplies for American forces in Afghanistan. A Pakistani military operation in Khyber in January 2009 reduced TTP effectiveness operating out of that agency, but Mehsud continued to plan and execute attacks out of his base in Orakzai prior to returning to SWA in late May, reportedly with large numbers of those under his command and in preparation for the upcoming SWA operation. [25]
  7. Wali ur Rehman Mehsud (August 2009 to Present): [26]

Ideology & Goals

TTP has strong Sunni and Deoband ideological leanings. According to its founding leader Baitullah Mehsud, TTP seeks to "impose Islamic Law in Pakistan and the entire world, to fight imperialist powers fighting against Muslims in Afghanistan and around the world, to fight disbelievers and to wage Jihad against the Pakistani state and Pakistan Army."

Name Changes


Size Estimates

Designated/Listed

TTP was designated as an entity associated with Al Qaeda by the U.N. on July 29, 2011.[30]

Resources

TTP has strong ties with Al Qaeda. In an interview to Al Jazeera, Baitullah Mehsud openly accepted Al Qaeda's role in TTP's formation. According to White House officials, "the TTP has been training with, operating with, and planning attacks with Al Qaida."[31]  The U.S. State Department, in its assessment of Al Qaeda-TTP relations, says: "TTP and Al Qaeda have a symbiotic relationship; TTP draws ideological guidance from Al Qaeda, while Al Qaeda relies on TTP safe havens in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. This mutual cooperation gives TTP access to both Al Qaeda global terrorist network and the operational experience of its members. Given the proximity of the two groups and the nature of their relationship, TTP is a force multiplier for Al Qaeda."[32]  
 
In addition to receiving funds from Al Qaeda, another source of funding for TTP is foreign intelligence agencies. Though not much is known about it, Pakistan's security agencies allege that TTP is financially assisted by foreign intelligence agencies such as RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) of India in a bid to destabilize Pakistan.[33] 
 
TTP has also been involved in kidnapping for ransom and extortion to raise funds.[34] It also raises money through donations, and involvement in the drug trade.

External Influences

The external influence on TTP can be broken down in three sections: the influence of intelligence agencies, the ideological influence from the Deoband movement in Pakistan, and the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. 

Pakistani state agencies allege that TTP is supported by foreign intelligence agencies such as RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) of India in a bid to destabilize Pakistan. The legitimacy of this claim is doubted.[35]

TTP draws its recruits from the Deoband madrassas in Pakistan. Ideologically too, TTP has its basis in the Deoband interpretation of Islam.[36] 

TTP emulates the Taliban movement of Afghanistan. It aims to establish an Islamic state in Pakistan like the one established by Mullah Omer in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Upon formation of the group, Baitullah Mehsud, the first commander of TTP, had declared allegiance to Mullah Omer. TTP is also heavily influenced by Al-Qaeda.[37] Baitullah Mehsud admitted to this indirectly in an interview to Al Jazeera. He stated that the formation of TTP was delayed because of challenges in uniting the local militias, and the assistance needed from Arabs and Uzbek fighters.[38]

Geographical Locations

TTP's main training bases are in South and North Waziristan Agencies. It also heavily recruits from Madrassas in South Punjab and Karachi.[39] It absorbed many local groups from the region such as Tehreek-e-Islami, Islami Taliban, Jaish-e-Islami and Al Hizb.

Targets & Tactics

TTP primarily targets the Pakistan Army, Pakistani state assets, NATO/ISAF assets, US citizens and Western government assets. The group's tactics include kidnappings for ransom, suicide attacks, IED attacks, grenade and small arms attacks, and other bombing attacks. TTP also carries out armed assaults, referred in jihadi language as "Fidayee" attacks, and has beheaded its captives. Videos of their attacks are often posted online, both in an effort to intimidate opposition forces and to recruit supporters.

Political Activities

TTP and its affiliate groups have supported and been supported by political groups in Pakistan.  Jamat-e-Ulema Islami Fazal-ur-Rehman(JUI-F), a mainstream religious political party of Pakistan, has been politically linked with TTP.[40]  Leaders of JUI-F, such as Saleh Shah, Esamuddin, and Qureshi (along with jirga leaders Noor Mohammad among the Ahmadzai Wazirs and Maulavi Nek Zaman among the Utmanzai Wazirs) under the direction of Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F), have maintained strong ties with TTP leadership cadres. JUI-F has offered the Government of Pakistan to play the role of intermediary in negotiations with TTP. Fazlur Rehman, whose hometown is nearby Dera Ismail Khan, has positioned himself and his party as a primary mediator between the government and militants; his affiliates have been mediators in each of the five peace agreements concluded in the Waziristans since 2004. 

Pakistan Muslim League-N, a right wing political party, second biggest of Pakistan, has been supported by Sipah-e-Sahaba(SSP), an affiliate of TTP, in local elections.[41]

Major Attacks

  1. September 22, 2008: Suicide bomb attack on Marriot Hotel, Islamabad. (57 killed).[42]
  2. March 30, 2009: TTP militants, some dressed as police officers, engaged in an armed attack on the Lahore police academy. They used small arms and grenades to attack a morning procession of new police force recruits. (8 killed, 95 injured).[43]
  3. October 12, 2009: Suicide bomb attack on GHQ, Pakistan Army Headquarters. (14 killed).[44]
  4. December 30, 2009: Suicide attack on CIA base (Camp Chapman) in Khost, Afghanistan. It was the second-largest attack on CIA personnel in US history. The bombing was the combined effort of TTP, Afghan Taliban, and al-Qaeda. (9 killed, 8 injured.).[45]
  5. May 28, 2010: Simultaneous attacks on two mosques of Ahmadi sect in Lahore. (86 killed, 120+ wounded).[46]
  6. May 25, 2011: A suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a Peshwar police station. (6 killed, 30 wounded).[47]
  7. July 9, 2012: Gunmen attack an army camp, leaving behind a pamphlet that stated that the group would continue to attack if Pakistani forces continued to allow NATO to use its territory to transport supplies into Afghanistan. (8 killed).[48]

Relationships with Other Groups

Though TTP's affiliate groups operate independently, the central leadership determines the strategic line for affiliate groups. Some of the affiliate groups that used to operate against India and sectarian targets that are now part of TTP include Lahskar-e-Zil, 313 Brigade, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami. Groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which previously had purely sectarian objectives, now operate in concert with TTP against a broader set of targets. In the months following its formation, TTP maintained a heavy presence in Kurram, Bajaur, Orakzai, Khyber and Darra Adamkhel agencies of the tribal areas. It absorbed many local groups from the region such as Tehreek-e-Islami, Islami Taliban, Jaish-e-Islami and Al Hizb.

TTP recently formed a rivalry with Jaish-e-Muhammed, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jamiatul Mujahdeen and Lashkar-e-Taiyba.[49]Organizations that continue to receive the patronage of the Pakistani state and ISI have reportedly experienced a decline in popularity with TTP. These groups, which have been affiliates of TTP, are now seen to be too close to the Pakistani state by TTP cadres, and are therefore a risk for its security.

TTP has added to the sectarian strife in District Hangu and Kurram Agency. Under the leadership of Hakimullah Mehsud, TTP has been aggressively attacking Shiite groups such as the Mehdi force. TTP's Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber Agency factions have collaborated with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan on Shiite targets in the region and across Pakistan. Splits within TTP have become apparent through the difference in strategy of its various factions and sub-groups. Hafiz Gulbahadur, for instance, of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe, is the deputy commander of TTP, but in his area of operational control, he has a functioning peace deal with the Pakistan Army. When TTP was being targeted in South Waziristan Agency, Hafiz Gulbahadur abided by the deal and did not attack Pakistan Army or its assets in his area.[50] Mullah Nazir, of the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe, is another important commander of TTP from South Waziristan Agency who has been cooperating with the Pakistani state. He was instrumental in evicting Taliban fighters of the Mehsud tribe from his area in 2009. By doing so, he was able to prevent Pakistan Army's military operation in his area.[51]  

The role of the Baitullah Mehsud group has also been deviant from the main strategy of TTP's core group. Led by Wali ur Rehman Mehsud, the group's formation was a result of a succession fight over the leadership of TTP upon Baitullah Mehsud's death. But Wali ur Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud, in a joint interview with the Associated Press, denied the reports and stated that they were united. The group's status at this moment is unknown. 

The Qari Zainuddin group is another splinter group formed during the lifetime of Baitullah Mehsud.[52] Led by Qari Zainuddin, the group publicly declared allegiance to the Pakistani state. Baitullah Mehsud's fighters subsequently killed Qari Zainuddain. Misbahuddin Mehsud, the 23-year-old younger brother of Qari Zainuddin, is Zainuddin's apparent successor and leader of a group. Zainuddin was generally considered raw and untested; his close familial relation (first cousin) to deceased militant leader Abdullah Mehsud and the clear Pakistani government backing given to him, however, made him the figure around which anti-Baitullah militants coalesced. He is reportedly less educated and rougher in manner than Zainuddin (Misbahuddin's nickname is Tofan, meaning "storm" and referring to his temper).

Community Relationships

TTP heavily relies on tribal loyalties and local affiliations for its recruitment. It also, reflecting the pattern of Afghan Taliban, uses the 'Pakhtun' culture, known as Pakhtunwali, to extend hospitality to foreign fighters.[53] Some of the most vital recruitment bases continue to be the vast network of madrassas spread across Pakistan, where it recruits young boys to help with its missions [54].  The group is also active in spreading its message through mosque communities as well as in camps for internally displaced persons [55].  The group makes active use of radio, broadcasting messages of ideology and requests for support.  The group also collects donations through existing Islamic institutes [56].

TTP has heavily recruited from the Mehsud clan. However, the breakaway Mehsud factions, led by Qari Zainuddin initially and Misbahuddin Mehsud more rencently, have been a source of opposition. [57].

TTP's relationship with the Ahmedzai Wazirs, an important tribe in the South Waziristan Agency, has been variable. [58]. The two tribes have supported as well as opposed TTP on different occasions. 

The Bhittani tribe from the South Waziristan Agency has also opposed TTP, primarily because of its history of bloody feuds with the Mehsud tribe. Bhittani tribe's opposition to TTP has been of strategic significance of late for the Pakistani state, as the tribe resides in the border area between the South Waziristan Agency and Tank district, one of the three entry points to the South Waziristan Agency.


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