The Obama administration on Wednesday put the Pakistani Taliban on its international terrorism blacklist and announced a $5 million reward for information on the group’s leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Ur Rehman.
Mr. Mehsud also has been charged with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and use weapons of mass destruction. The charges stem from his alleged role in the murder of seven CIA agents at a U.S. military base in Khost, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2009.
Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s top counterterrorism official, said the action was part of a “multipronged approach to disrupt and dismantle Tehrik-e Taliban in Pakistan.”
The designations will freeze the flow of finances to the Tehrik-e Taliban, or TTP, and empower the Justice Department to prosecute U.S. citizens who help members of the terrorist group.
Describing TTP as very much a part of the most dangerous terrorist threat the United States faces, Mr. Benjamin said: “We are determined to eliminate TTP’s ability to execute violent attacks and to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat their networks.”
He said the TTP and al Qaeda have a symbiotic relationship, with the former drawing ideological guidance from al Qaeda, which relies on the TTP for a haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
In addition to the CIA bombing, the TTP has been blamed for the failed May 1 car bombing in New York City’s Times Square. The Pakistani government says the group was also behind the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the April 2010 suicide bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar.
Rob Hartung, assistant director of the threat investigations and analysis directorate of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, described Mr. Mehsud and Mr. Rahman as “dedicated terrorists” who are trying to “extend their bloody reach into the American homeland.”