U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) urged the State Department on Tuesday to cite the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization given that the group has been implicated in the Times Square bombing scare earlier this month. The senators announced they have sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the administration to cite the group, also known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in order to trigger a series of counterterrorism measures.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Sunday that U.S. intelligence indicates the group helped train and finance Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who allegedly drove a bomb-carrying Nissan Pathfinder into the heart of Times Square on May 1. The senators said that this linkage--together with documented threats made by TTP officials against U.S. cities, and evidence that the group has allied with the al Qaeda terrorist network--warrants the official designation from the State Department.
"The Pakistani Taliban is a murderous organization dedicated to killing civilians, harming U.S. interests in the region, and has even taken credit for terrorist acts committed on U.S. soil," the senators wrote. "Designating the Pakistani Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization would be an effective means of curtailing support for their terrorist activities and pressuring other groups to withdraw their logistical, financial and political support for this terrorist organization."
The designation is a critical step in combating foreign terrorist groups. It triggers a series of steps, including: freezing of assets, barring foreign nationals with ties to the group from entering the U.S., and criminalizing the act of providing any material assistance to the group.
Currently, 45 different organizations are named on the list, including Al Qaeda, Hamas, and the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). Designations, which last for two years and must be renewed, are made following an interagency process involving the State, Justice, Homeland Security, and Treasury Departments. By law, the designation requires that three conditions are met:
1. The organization is foreign;
2. The organization engages in terrorist activity;
3. The terrorist activity threatens the security of United States citizens or the national security of the United States.
The senators said today that the TTP clearly meets all three criteria. In addition to evidence linking the group to the Times Square incident, the senators pointed in their letter to an April 2010 video in which TTP representative indicated the group would be targeting U.S. cities. The group has also been implicated in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and, according to reports, has partnered with Al Qaeda.
A copy of the senators' letter to Secretary Clinton appears below.
May 11, 2010
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary, Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We write to urge you to add the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, otherwise known as the Pakistani Taliban, to the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). The Pakistani Taliban is a murderous organization dedicated to killing civilians, harming U.S. interests in the region, and has even taken credit for terrorist acts committed on U.S. soil. In a video recorded in April 2010, a representative of the Taliban in Pakistan indicated that this organization would make cities in the United States a "main target." Additionally, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on May 9th, that U.S. intelligence indicates that the Pakistani Taliban helped train and finance Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who allegedly drove a bomb-carrying Nissan Pathfinder into the heart of Times Square on May 1.
We believe it is crucial that government officials use every available opportunity to highlight the importance that FTO designations play in our fight against terrorism. Designating the Pakistani Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization would be an effective means of curtailing support for their terrorist activities and pressuring other groups to withdraw their logistical, financial and political support for this terrorist organization.
Since 2001, the Pakistani Taliban have committed atrocities aimed at NGO workers, government officials, law enforcement authorities and innocent civilians. Additionally, the Pakistani government implicated the network in the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto and, in January 2008, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also confirmed its belief of their involvement in the assassination.
According to recent media reports, the Pakistani Taliban has made efforts to combined forces with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, threatening to extend their reach and murderous acts. Despite unified efforts to degrade their capabilities, the Pakistani Taliban have managed to expand their deadly influence through alliances with a number of other militant groups, terrorist organizations and independent terrorist cells under their control.
FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. We urge you to immediately take the necessary steps to designate the Pakistani Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization by adding it to the State Department's FTO list.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if we can be of any assistance.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez
U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg