Pakistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) is a force multiplier for al-Qaeda which poses most threat to America and wants to topple the government in Islamabad, a top US official has said.
"The TTP is very much part of the most dangerous terrorist threat the United States faces. The TTP and al-Qaeda
have a symbiotic relationship. TTP draws ideological guidance from al-Qaeda, while al-Qaeda relies on the TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border," said Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin.
Washington yesterday designated TTP as Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), paving the way for overseas travel ban on
its leaders and financial restrictions on the dreaded group.
"This mutual cooperation gives TTP access to both al-Qaeda's global terrorist network and the operational
experience of its members. Given the proximity of the two groups and the nature of their relationship, TTP is a force
multiplier for al-Qaeda," he told reporters at a special State Department briefing.
"TTP's goals include toppling the Government of Pakistan by waging a campaign of terrorism against the civilian leaders of that country and its military. The group also targets NATO forces in Afghanistan. TTP has claimed responsibility for
numerous attacks against both Pakistani and US interests."
The terrorist outfit has also been accused by Pakistan law enforcement agencies of being behind the 2007
assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Benjamin said.
Responding to a question, Benjamin said TTP has several thousand members.
"I believe it's in the several thousands of members. A number of other attacks that you may recall that they were
responsible for, there was a large vehicle-borne IED attack in Kohat on a police station that killed seven people. That was
in April," he said.
"At the end of May, they carried out attacks on three mosques, minority mosques, Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore, and
that killed 86 people. And there are many, many more attacks that go with that," he said.
Benjamin said the designation of TTP as a FTO and also declaring two of its leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Ur
Rehman as "specially designated global terrorists" have been communicated to a number of countries including Pakistan.
"It is communicated to relevant foreign governments. Believe me, we're quite vigorous about making sure that these
designations are well known and that partner governments are working with us against these groups," he said.