Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 5 - Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

Aka Pakistani Taliban; Tehreek-e-Taliban; Tehrik-e-Taliban; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan; TTP

Description:  Designated as an FTO on September 1, 2010, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistan and Afghanistan-based terrorist organization formed in 2007 to oppose Pakistani military efforts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas).  Previously disparate tribal militants agreed to cooperate and eventually coalesced into TTP under the leadership of now-deceased leader Baitullah Mehsud.  Mullah Fazlullah headed the group until his death in June 2018.  TTP then named Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the group’s new leader.

TTP aims to push the Government of Pakistan out of Khyber Pakhtunkwa province and establish Sharia law by waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani military and state.  TTP uses the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives, and the group has ties to al-Qa’ida (AQ).  TTP draws ideological guidance from AQ, while elements of AQ rely in part on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistani border.  This arrangement has given TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and its members’ operational expertise.

Activities:  TTP has carried out and claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts against Pakistani and U.S. interests, including a December 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. military base in Khost, Afghanistan, which killed seven U.S. citizens; and an April 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed six Pakistani citizens.  TTP is suspected of involvement in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.  TTP directed and facilitated Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to detonate an explosive device in New York City’s Times Square on May 1, 2010.

Between 2011 and 2018, TTP continued to carry out attacks against the Government of Pakistan and Pakistani civilian targets, as well as against U.S. targets in Pakistan.  In 2012, TTP carried out attacks against a mosque, a police checkpoint, a Pakistani Air Force base, and a bus carrying Shia Muslims.  In 2013, TTP attacked churches, the home of a government minister in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and a Shia neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan.  These attacks killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and Pakistani government and law enforcement officials.  In 2014, TTP carried out two consecutive attacks against Karachi’s international airport and a siege on a primary school in Peshawar, Pakistan that killed 145 people, 132 of whom were children.  In 2015, TTP bombed a Shia mosque near Peshawar and conducted suicide bombings at two churches in Lahore.  In 2016, the group claimed responsibility for a December attack that left the Deputy Superintendent of the police counterterrorism department dead and his son injured in an attack on their vehicle in Peshawar.

TTP attacks in 2017 included several suicide bombings, among them a February attack that targeted a protest in Lahore, a March attack on a mosque in northwestern Pakistan, and a July attack in Lahore that killed 26 people.  In December 2017, TTP militants disguised as women stormed an agricultural training school in Peshawar, leaving nine dead including the attackers.

In February 2018, TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 11 Pakistani security personnel in Swat, Pakistan.  TTP also claimed responsibility for a March 2018 suicide bombing that targeted a checkpoint on the outskirts of Lahore, resulting in the deaths of four police officers and two civilians.

TTP claimed multiple attacks in Pakistan in 2019.  In July, TTP claimed responsibility for killing six soldiers on patrol in North Waziristan.  TTP also claimed responsibility in August for killing four members of a ‘peace committee’ who were working with the Pakistani government in its efforts against the Afghan Taliban.

Strength:  TTP is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Pakistan and Afghanistan

Funding and External Aid:  TTP likely raises most of its funds through kidnapping-for–ransom payments, extortion, and other criminal activity.