By: Carly A. Krasner
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (“TTP”), was recently designated as a terrorist group by the Obama Administration. The U.S. government has been criticized for not designating the TTP as a foreign terrorist organization sooner. However, the tardy decision has been attributed to the following “a laborious and deliberative process” yielding a classification can be substantiated in court.
The TTP emerged as an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban movement in 2007. Its primary goals were to overthrow the Pakistani government and establish strict Islamist law in Pakistan. While the TTP is considered a distinct organization from the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, they have links to them, as well as to al-Qaeda. The ambassador at large for counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, described the relationship between the TTP and al-Qaeda as a “symbiotic relationship” where the TTP uses al-Qaeda for “ideological guidance,” and al-Qaeda relies on the TTP to provide safe haven for it along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The group is accused of being involved in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in 2007, and they have taken responsibility for the December 30, 2009, bombing near Khost, Afghanistan, where seven C.I.A. employees were killed. They have also taken responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kohat back in April, attacks on Shiite mosques in Lahore in May, the failed attempt to detonate a bomb in Times Square on May 1, 2010, and the suicide bomb detonated at a Shiite protest in the southwestern Pakistani city, Quetta, on Friday, September 10, 2010, where at least 53 people were killed and 100 wounded. Additionally, the April attack of the United States consulate in Peshawar – the most recent and direct attack upon an American facility – is believed to be have been planned by the TTP.
The bombing in Quetta – the most recent attack attributed to the TTP – was aimed at the minority sect of the Shiite Muslims during their observance of Al Quds Day. The Shiite protestors were urged by Pakistan’s interior minister of the danger, but religious leaders failed to take the advice. The United States Embassy in Islamabad has condemned this recent bombing the Shiite population as an attack on the foundation of democracy itself.