Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – TTP is an active terrorist organisation in Pakistan-Afghanistan region.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, is a terrorist group which is an umbrella organization of various militant groups based in the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Pakistan. Most Taliban groups in Pakistan coalesce under the TTP. In December 2007 about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the Tehrik-i-Taliban. Among the Tehrik-i-Taliban stated objectives are resistance against the Pakistani state, Pakistani army, 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 Haibatullah Akhundzada, 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. Following Maulana Fazlullah’s death in 2018 by an American drone strike in Kunar province, Afghanistan, the TTP appointed Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the group’s new emir.
In July 2012, the TTP threatened to attack Myanmar in the wake of sectarian violence against Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan state. TTP spokesman at the time Ehsanullah demanded the Pakistani government to sever relations with Myanmar and close down the Burmese embassy in Islamabad, and warned of attacks against Burmese interests if no action was taken. While the TTP has been conducting an insurgency in Pakistan, its ability to expand operations to other countries has been questioned. This was a rare occasion in which it warned of violence in another country.
In August 2009, a missile strike from a suspected U.S. drone killed Baitullah Mehsud. The TTP soon held a shura to appoint his successor. Government sources reported that fighting broke out during the shura between Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman. While Pakistani news channels reported that Hakimullah had been killed in the shooting, Interior Minister Rehman Malik could not confirm his death. On 18 August, Pakistani security officials announced the capture of Maulvi Omar, chief spokesperson of the TTP. Omar, who had denied the death of Baitullah, retracted his previous statements and confirmed the leader’s death in the missile strike. He also acknowledged turmoil among TTP leadership following the killing.
After Omar’s capture, Maulana Faqir Mohammed announced to the BBC that he would assume temporary leadership of the TTP and that Muslim Khan would serve as the organization’s primary spokesperson.
Under the leadership of Hakimullah, the TTP intensified its suicide campaign against the Pakistani state and against civilian (particularly Shia, Ahmedi and Sufi) targets.
In February 2014, a group of TTP jihadists under the lead of Maulana Umar Qasmi broke away from the organisation to form the Ahrar-ul-Hind, in protest against the TTP’s negotiations with the Pakistan government.
In May 2014 the Mehsud faction of the TTP defected from the main group to form a breakaway unit called Tehrik-i-Taliban South Waziristan led by Khalid Mehsud. The breakaway group was unhappy with the various activities of the TTP, saying in a statement “We consider kidnapping for ransom, extortion, damage to public facilities and bombings to be un-Islamic. Tehreek-e-Taliban Mehsud group believes in stopping the oppressor from cruelty, and supporting the oppressed.” The Mehsuds were widely seen as the most important group in the TTP and their loss was regarded as a major blow. In February 2017, the TTP announced that the Mehsud faction had rejoined the group, following the “defection of the rogue elements to the rival parties”.
In August 2014, hardline elements of the TTP from four of the seven tribal districts formed a separate group called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, led by the Mohmand Agency commander Omar Khalid Khorosani, after disagreeing with Fazlullah’s order to fight the Pakistani Army’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb offensive in the Tribal Areas. However, in March 2015, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s spokesman announced that they were rejoining the TTP. Some Uzbek and Arab fighters previously working with the TTP reportedly began leaving Pakistan to go to Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In the same month, Asmatullah Muawiya, the commander of the Punjabi Taliban, announced that his faction was ending their armed struggle against the Pakistani state. In October 2014, the TTP’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, and the group’s commanders in Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber tribal regions and Peshawar and Hangu Districts defected from the TTP and pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS).
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.
In September 2018, TTP announced it is changing its old flag to a new flag, which closely resembles the flag used by the Islamic State group. However, there’s no indication or official announcement from TTP that it has joined the Islamic State group.
The TTP’s “media arm” is “Umar Media”. Apart from releasing claims for attacks carried out by TTP, Umar Media provides a “behind the scenes” look at Taliban attacks. Its video clips are made in Pashto with Urdu subtitles but also sometimes in Urdu. On Telegram, Umar Media is divided into channels based on multiple languages: English, Urdu, Arabic, Pushto.
Before Pakistan carried out major military operations against the TTP, the group’s spokesman routinely appeared on Pakistani TV and claimed attacks. But since Pakistan’s counter-terrorism ops, TTP was banned from Pakistani media and now it sticks to claiming attacks via mail which is sent to Pakistani journalists as well as via Telegram.