A report compiled by a UN Security Council (UNSC) monitoring committee has shed light on the resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group and regrouping inside Pakistan, specifically after the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan
The report highlighted that the TTP has gained considerable momentum in its efforts to regain control on the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan as it has gained encouragement by the fall of Kabul and the “under the umbrella” support it has been able to get on its cross-border coordination.
“Member states assess that the TTP is gaining momentum in its operations against Pakistan. Since the reunification with several splinter groups, the TTP has aspired to re-establish control of territory in Pakistan after being emboldened by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan,” says the report.
It also highlighted the recent terror attacks in Pakistan, maintaining that the TTP has been focusing on “high-value targets” in border areas and “soft targets” in urban areas.
“The TTP’s capability is assessed as not matching its ambitions, given that it does not control territory and lacks popular appeal in the tribal areas.
“The member states are concerned that the TTP could become a regional threat if it continues to have safe operating base in Afghanistan,” the report added.
Some UNSC member states have also expressed concerns over TTP’s regrouping that might result in its affiliation with different foreign outfits, as well as the possiblity of merging with Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in the near future.
The report further claimed that the AQIS was already providing guidance to the TTP and facilitating it in carrying out targeted terror attacks within Pakistan.
It revealed that TTP fighters were using the training camps of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) banned outfit in Kunar province, Afghanistan, implying the coordination and support that exists between various groups with a comfortable umbrella of the Taliban regime.
Afghanistan has been a place of global interest and significance in relations to terrorism and counter-terrorism operations. The country has remained a safe haven for over 20 terrorist groups, who have operated to spread unrest around the globe and in its bordering neighbors with porous border, Pakistan.
It is also an established reality that the Taliban, TTP and Al Qaeda continue to remain in close relationship, symbolically and ideologically.
In contrast to the situation on ground, the Taliban and Al Qaeda operate covertly in Afghanistan to promote the narrative that the regime in complying with agreements not to use Afghan soil for terrorist activities.
The report also highlighted that while the Al Qaeda’s capability to conduct large-scale terror attacks remains condensed, its intent remains firm.
The Al Qaeda “uses Afghanistan as an ideological and logistical hub to mobilise and recruit new fighters, while covertly rebuilding its external operations capability”.
“Thus implying that the external narrative of the Afghan Taliban is being used to gain time and space for Al Qaeda’s reorganisation by establishing new training centres in Kunar and Nuristan provinces. Al Qaeda would likely remain dormant in the short-term while developing its operational capability and outreach.
“Al Qaeda leaders seek to strengthen cooperation with regional terrorist groups of non-Afghan origin located in Afghanistan, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), ETIM/TIP and the Jamaat Ansarullah, intending to infiltrate and establish strongholds in countries in Central Asia,” the report warned, adding that the long-term prospects of the terror group depended on the complex ground situation in Afghanistan.
“Should Afghanistan descend into chaos and insecurity, the base for Al Qaeda would likely strengthen. Should the country achieve stability, Al-Qaeda would likely seek to shift,” the report added.