ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - The United States has designated a top Pakistani militant commander as a global terrorist for directing deadly attacks against Pakistan.
The U.S. State Department announced the decision Tuesday, identifying the man as Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, the head of the outlawed extremist Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban.
It noted that under Mehsud’s leadership, TTP has claimed responsibility “for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan.” The militant leader is also believed to have fought against U.S. and local forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Mehsud was named the leader of TTP in June 2018 following the killing of his predecessor, Mullah Fazlullah, in an American drone strike against his hideout in an eastern Afghan province bordering Pakistan.
For years, TTP has waged a deadly insurgency against the Pakistani state, killing thousands of people.
Tuesday’s State Department announcement also designated as global terrorists 11 other leaders of previously outlawed groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS-Philippines and ISIS-West Africa .
The designations deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks blocking access to all their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Americans are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them, the statement explained.
Fazlullah had claimed responsibility for ordering major attacks in Pakistan, including a 2014 school massacre in Peshawar that killed 132 children and the 2012 shooting in the scenic Swat Valley of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The United States had also offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah.
Pakistani military officials say sustained counter militancy operations in recent years have eliminated TTP’s bases on their side of the border and most of its militants fled to Afghanistan where they have established sanctuaries.
Islamabad’s often strained ties with Washington has seen improvement in recent months mainly because of Pakistan’s cooperation in U.S.-led Afghan peace efforts.
In July, the U.S. also designated Pakistan’s separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a foreign terrorist organization for carrying out deadly attacks against local and Chinese nationals working in Pakistan.