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US Designates Pakistani Taliban as Foreign Terrorist Organization

  • Meredith Buel

The United States has designated the Pakistani Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization and charged its leader with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens abroad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designated the group, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP, and its two top leaders as global terrorists.

The State Department says the group has carried out numerous attacks on U.S. citizens abroad, including the December 2009 suicide bombing on a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan that killed seven employees of the CIA.

Dan Benjamin is the State Department's Ambassador at Large for Counterterrorism.

"The TTP is very much a part of the most dangerous terrorist threat that the United States faces," said Dan Benjamin. "The TTP and al-Qaida have a symbiotic relationship. TTP draws ideological guidance from al-Qaida while al-Qaida relies on the TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border."

The State Department says the Pakistani Taliban is responsible for the April 2010 suicide bombing at the U.S. consulate in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, which killed six Pakistani citizens.

The group also claimed responsibility for the May 2010 failed car bombing in New York City's Times Square.

Again, Ambassador Dan Benjamin.

"TTP's goals include toppling the government of Pakistan by waging a campaign of terrorism against the civilian leaders of that country and its military," he said. "The group also targets NATO forces in Afghanistan. TTP has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against both Pakistani and U.S. interests."

The TTP has also been accused by Pakistani law enforcement of being behind the 2007 assassination of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

U.S. officials say designating the group as a foreign terrorist organization will help stop the flow of finances and provide the Department of Justice with a critical tool to prosecute those providing material support to the TTP and its senior leaders.

The Justice Department has filed an arrest warrant for the head of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud and charged him with conspiracy to murder Americans abroad.

The U.S. has also announced a $5-million reward for information leading to the arrest of Mehsud or his deputy, Wali Ur Rehman.

Robert Hartung is with the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

"In Southern Asia, Mr. Mehsud and Mr. Rehman have planned and organized the killing of citizens from both the United States and Pakistan," said Robert Hartung. "These individuals are dedicated terrorists and they are attempting to extend their bloody reach into the American homeland. They are a danger to the interests of the United States, to its facilities and its citizens."

U.S. officials say they are determined to eliminate the Pakistani Taliban's ability to carry out terrorist attacks and to disrupt, dismantle and defeat its networks along the border with Afghanistan.