Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan



    TTP Mehsud.jpg

    Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the TTP since August 2009.[1]

    Status: Active
    AKA: Pakistan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban, Student Movement of Pakistan, Taliban Movement of Pakistan, Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, TTP
    Formed: 2007, December
    Areas of Operation: Afghanistan; Pakistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP); United States
    Ideology: Religious (Islamist - Sunni/Deobandi)
    Leader: Hakimullah Mehsud (alias Zulfikar)
    Affiliates: Abu Sayyaf Group, al Qaeda, Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Jundallah, Lashkar-e-Islam, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Taliban, Tehrik e Nefaz Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM)
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    Organizational History

    Like the Afghan Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) primary objective is the installation of an Islamic emirate governed according to their fundamentalist Deoband-form of Sharia, Islamic law. However, this new organization is unlike any earlier Pakistani Taliban groups, which were focused directly on supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan against the U.S. and coalition partners.  The TTP is explicitly concerned with overthrowing the Pakistani government.  

    They were officially formed in December 2007 as a group that would facilitate the communication and cooperation between the numerous pro-Taliban groups operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. The future inner circle of the TTP already posed a significant threat throughout FATA and in the Khyber Agency; small groups regularly ambushed and defeated Pakistani security forces, and their capacity for training and deploying suicide bombers around the country made them a threat to the rest of Pakistan.  Most importantly, their political, social, and religious control of much of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region has enabled them to forge strong operational linkages with the Afghan Taliban.  This connection has benefitted the Pakistani terrorist group immensely, supplying them with extended financing options, training opportunities, logistical supplies, and greater financing sources.  Through this network, the TTP has also been afforded the opportunity to recruit more extensively among foreign fighter populations, thereby creating a clear connection between Pakistan-based Deobandi and other fundamentalist Sunni terrorist groups and the international jihadi network. 

    In addition to their relationship with the organizations listed above, according to U.S. General, David Patraeus, the TTP and al Qaeda have a symbiotic relationship.  Not only do they coordinate activities and share operational and logistical expertise and supplies, but they even compete with one another and take part in some minor internecine conflicts.  TTP leaders draw ideological leadership from the larger organization, while al Qaeda often relies on TTP for shelter from security forces along the Afghan-Pakistan border.  This alliance is extremely advantageous to TTP, giving them contact with an international Islamic terrorist network.  According to Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator for Counterterrorism with the U.S. State Department, the cooperation between the two organizations is a force multiplier for al Qaeda as TTP gives the former group access to a portion of the fundamentalist population in the tribal areas of Pakistan that was previously difficult to infiltrate due to their isolated lifestyle.  

    Military operations against the TTP have increased substantially following the failure of at least a dozen different peace negotiations with militants in the tribal areas since 2008.   The terrorist group was also dealt a significant blow with the death of Beitullah Mehsud who was reportedly killed in a drone strike in the tribal areas in August 2009.   Despite these setbacks, leadership was quickly handed over to Beitullah’s brother, Hakimullah Mehsud, and suicide incidents, bombings, and ambush attacks by TTP militants and affiliates have continued.   U.S. officials accused the group of being responsible for the failed bombing in New York’s Times Square on May 1, 2010, which reveals the remarkable expansion of the group’s capabilities.  TTP representatives claimed that the group directed and funded the attack in revenge for the killing of two leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, along with the continued presence of U.S. troops and installations in Muslim states.  The group continues to claim that it has installed other operatives on U.S. soil in order to wage high-yield attacks against domestic targets.  According to Hakimullah, “our ur fidaeen [commandos] have penetrated the terrorist America, we will give extremely painful blows to the fanaticAmerica.  The flames in our hearts will only be lightened when our Fidaaeen [sic] will deliver precise and destructive attacks on the terrorist America, bringing it down to its knees."[2]  In light of this threat, the State Department designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist organization (FTO) on September 1, 2010. The Secretary of State also designated TTP as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, along with leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur Rehman.


    Hakimullah Mehsud has been the leader of the TTP organization since August 2009 following the death of his brother, Baitullah Mehsud in the same month.  Prior to Baitullah’s death the top three leaders of the TTP were Hakimullah Mehsud, Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, and Qari Hussain, all of whom competed for the head leadership position.  Wali-ur-Rehman is the TTP emir in South Waziristan and is known for perpetrating numerous cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as in his own country, Pakistan. The current group spokesman is Azam Tariq.

    Security forces have reported a high presence of TTP members in Karachi.  Apparently, these militants are fleeing the tribal areas where U.S., coalition, and Pakistani officials are increasing their patrols and taking refuge in the city where there is a large Pashtun population.  Police officials believe some Pashtun sympathizers have provided shelter and protection to TTP members and other terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Jundallah.   Through these connections, the TTP has been able to create small units of cross-sectional working groups, made up of approximately 10-15 members each, and greatly expand the efforts of the religious Pakistani terrorist network.[3]


    TTP militants typically utilize automatic assault rifles, particularly AK-series rifles.  In addition to bolt-action rifles and automatic assault rifles, militants have routinely made use of stand-off weapons such as mortars and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Members are increasingly using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide vests, and suicide vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs).  The seizure of a weapons cache in Karachi in October 2009 also indicated that the group had access to RDX explosives.


    The TTP is known for their involvement in criminal activities such as looting, extortion of locals in the FATA and NWFP, robberies, and hostage takings.  In August 2008, Pakistani security agencies interrupted a financial racket in Karachi by TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and other militant units. The compilation of groups committed bank robberies, other robberies of people who had recently withdrawn money from financial institutions, as well as kidnapping-for-ransom schemes. In April 2009, it was reported that the terrorist group successful extorted “protection” monies from the Sikh community living in the TTP-controlled Orakzai Agency region of Pakistan.[4] According to the same report, the TTP is also engaged in forcibly taking control of marble and emerald mines in the tribal areas. Not only do they raise considerable finances from the sale of these resources, but their involvement also poses a significant threat to legitimate businessmen who have historically controlled this industry.[4] In addition to these claims, officials also released that TTP members disguising themselves as government or aid workers have collected money meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region. In May 2010, Syed Mustafa Kamal, the mayor of Karachi, claimed that the city is the TTP’s “revenue engine,” and that assassinations in the region have risen dramatically due to their presence.[3]


    Reports suggest that TTP members and affiliates often train and recruit people in security firms, banks and money changer firms; these people facilitate the illegal transfer of money to meet the group’s financial needs.  These criminal syndicates pose a potential threat to the Pakistani banking industry. Also, the TTP will have the opportunity to exploit an untapped recruitment resource with the return of large quantities of internally displace persons across the tribal areas. 


    Typical targets for the TTP have remained the same since its inception including: local tribal leaders, rival local militants, un-Islamic locals, local security forces, Pakistani government forces, secular political party members, sectarian targets, and U.S. and coalition military forces and installations.  Their tactics have evolved considerably; at the beginning of their inception, members were waging ambush attacks against Pakistani security force stations and forts.  They are now responsible for well-planned,  high-casualty suicide bombings across the globe.  When first founded and led by Beitullah Mehsud, the group was responsible for the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as well as the September 2008 suicide bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel. TTP has carried out frequent attacks against U.S. interests under the new leadership of Hakimullah Mehsud. The group demonstrated that it possessed both the capability and the intent to carry out attacks on hard targets in Afghanistan when a member, Human Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi carried out a high-profile suicide attack on a US base in Khost in late December 2009, which ended in the deaths of seven CIA operatives.  More recently, the group has revealed an extended focus to launch attacks in the U.S.  TTP claimed to have funded and facilitated the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to detonate an improvised explosive device in Times Square in May 2010.  While initial reports could not corroborate their involvement, it was eventually validated by investigations which revealed that the Pakistani terrorist group directed and facilitated the plot. 


     TTP Leaders.jpg

    Hakimullah Mehsud (L) took over leadership of TTP after his brother, Baitullah Mehsud (R) was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in August 2009.[5]

     TTP faqir.jpg

    Faqir Mohammad, appointed deputy leader of TTP when it was founded in December 2007.[6]


     TTP omar.jpg

    Omar Khalid, prominent militant commander, has been a TTP representative for the Mohmand agency of Pakistan since December 2007.{{ Ref.Cite{reference: "Wadhams, C. & Cookman, C. (2009, July 22). Faces of Pakistan's major militant commanders. Center for American Progress. Retrieved fromhttp://www.americanprogress

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    1. Dollard, P. (2010, April 28). Intel: Pakistan Taliban chief believed still alive. Pat Dollard. Retrieved from [1]
    2. Anti-Defamation League. (2010, October 25). Profile: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Retrieved from [2]
    3. South Asia Terrorism Portal. (2010). Pakistan Assessment 2010. Retrieved from [3]
    4. Pakistan Taliban threaten to avenge leader's death. (2009, August 27). Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved from [4]

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