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Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan ( ) (Student Movement of Pakistan) is the main Taliban militant umbrella group in Pakistanmarker primarily in conflict with the central government. Among the group's stated objectives are resistance against the Pakistani army, enforcement of sharia and unification against NATOmarker forces in Afghanistanmarker.


The TTP began to form when in 2002 the Pakistani military conducted incursions into the tribal areas to combat foreign militants spilling across the Afghan border. Many of the Pakistani Taliban are veterans of the fighting in Afghanistan, where they supported the fight against foreigners by providing soldiers, training and logistics. While the Pakistani military concentrated on the Afghan Taliban, small militant tribes opposed to the federal government's control began to coordinate closely. In 2004, the groups started negotiations with Islamabad that effectively established their authority in the Federally Administered Tribal Areasmarker (FATA). By this time, the militants had killed around 200 rival tribal elders in the region and further consolidated control. In December 2007 the group officially formed under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud.

On August 25, 2008 Pakistan banned the group, froze its bank accounts and assets, and barred it from media appearances. The government also announced that bounties would be placed on prominent leaders of the TTP.

In late December 2008 and early January 2009 Mullah Omar sent a delegation, led by former Guantanamo Bay detaineemarker Mullah Abdullah Zakir, to persuade leading members of the TTP to put aside differences and aid the Afghan Taliban in combating the American presence in Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulavi Nazir agreed in February and formed the Shura Ittehadul Mujahideen (SIM), also transliterated as Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahideen and translated into English as the Council of United Mujahedeen. In a written statement circulated in a one-page Urdu-language pamphlet, the three affirmed that they would put aside differences to fight American-led forces. The statement included a declaration of allegiance to both Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

Confusion over death of amir and succession

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 August 18, 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 primary spokesperson. He also maintained that Baitullah had not been killed but rather was in ill health. Faqir further elaborated that decisions over leadership of the umbrella group would only be made in consultation and consensus with other TTP leaders. "The congregation of Taliban leaders has 32 members and no important decision can be taken without their consultation," he told the BBC. He reported to the AFP that both Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman had approved his appointment as temporary leader of the militant group. Neither militant had publicly confirmed Faqir's statement, and analysts cited by Dawn News believed the assumption of leadership actually indicated a power struggle.

Two days later Faqir Mohammed retracted his claims of temporary leadership and said that Hakimullah Mehsud had been selected leader of the TTP. Faqir declared that the 42-member shura had also decided that Azam Tariq would serve as the TTP's primary spokesperson rather than Muslim Khan.

Organizational structure

In its original form, the TTP had Baitullah Mehsud as its amir and he was followed in the leadership hierarchy by naib amir, or deputy, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and then Faqir Mohammed. The group contained members from all of FATA's seven tribal agencies as well as several districts of the NWFPmarker, including Swatmarker, Bannumarker, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khanmarker, Kohistanmarker, Buner and Malakand. 2008 estimates place the total number of operatives between 30,000 and 35,000.

In the aftermath of Baitullah Mehsud's death, the organization demonstrated signs of turmoil among its leading militants. By the end of August 2009, leading members in the TTP had confirmed Hakimullah Mehsud as its second amir.



Supporters and Allies

Claimed and alleged attacks

  • The Pakistani government implicated the network in the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhuttomarker although the group denies the charge. The CIA also confirmed its belief of TTP's involvement in January 2008.
  • The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariate-Mohammadi (TNSM) claimed responsibility for a December 23, 2007 suicide bombing targeting a military convoy on behalf of the TTP. The blast in the Mingora area of the Swat Valley killed five soldiers and six civilians.
  • TTP claimed responsibility for the 23 July 2008 Swat Valley bombing.
  • TTP spokesman Maulvi Umar claimed that the group was responsible for August 21, 2008 suicide bomb attack on a military complex.
  • Someone using the name Abdur Rehman claimed that the TTP was behind a November 6, 2008 suicide bombing that targeted tribal elders, who had gathered in the Bajaurmarker tribal area to discuss efforts to coordinate with the government against the Pakistani Taliban. The blast took the lives of 16 and injured 31.
  • On November 13 2008, the TTP intercepted a military convoy along the Khyber Passmarker bound for NATOmarker troops in Afghanistan.
  • In telephone interviews with news media Mehsud claimed responsibility for the March 30, 2009 attack on the police training academymarker in Lahoremarker. He told the BBC that the attack was in retaliation for continued missile strikes from American drones for which the Pakistani government shared responsibility. In the same interview Mehsud claimed two other attacks: a March 25 attack on an Islamabadmarker police station and a March 30 suicide attack on a military convoy near Bannumarker.
  • Mehsud claimed responsibility for the Binghamton shootingsmarker, stating that they were in retaliation for continued missile strikes from American drones. The FBI denied this claim and stated this was nothing to do with Massod
  • Azam Tariq, spokesman of the TTP, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a security checkpoint along the Pakistan-Afghan border near Torkhammarker on August 27, 2009. Tariq said by telephone that the attack was the first in retaliation for the death of Baitullah Mehsud. Although the exact number of casualties was unknown, a doctor at a nearby hospital told Dawn News that they had received 22 bodies and local people working at the blast site said they had retrieved 13 bodies.
  • Azam Tariq claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed five at the U.N.'s World Food Programme Islamabadmarker offices on October 5, 2009.
  • The TTP, through Azam Tariq, claimed responsibility for the October 2009 attack on the army's headquarters at Rawalpindimarker. Tariq told the Associated Press that the attack was carried out by its "Punjabimarker faction" although the military insisted the attack originated in South Waziristan.
  • The militant group claimed responsibility for three separate coordinated attacks in Lahore. 10 militants targeted buildings used by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Manawan Police Training Schoolmarker and the Elite Police Academy.

See also


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