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September 12, 2019

Terror list


September 12, 2019

Following the breakdown in talks between the US and Taliban a year after they began, and announced by President Donald Trump in an unexpected tweet, the Trump Administration has issued an order to expand the ability to go after suspected terrorists and their financiers and supporters. A new list of 11 men termed global terrorists has been released. This includes Noor Wali Mehsud, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan since June 2018 when former leader Mullah Fazlullah died. This development undoubtedly places additional pressures on Pakistan. While the TTP is already a proscribed organization in the country, the fact is that at a lower level it holds proxy groups. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the new decision adds muscle to the US’s counterterrorism plan under its provisions. Additions are being made to allow the US state and treasury departments to target the leaders of terror groups and their affiliates “without having to tie terrorist leaders to specific acts”. This will naturally be a controversial decision.

Crucially, the US State Department order also allows the targeting of individuals or those participating in terror training and provides authorities new sanctions on foreign financial institutions and doing business with suspected terrorists. The US treasury has said that it does not suspect international financial groups to be involved in such activity but will track them down if any is discovered. The 11 newly designated terrorist entities and individuals include the Quds Force, Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

We will need to see whether Pakistan, which till now had been assigned to play a key role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the talks table, will come under any pressure to deal with Taliban factions including those under Noor Wali Mehsud. As far as Afghanistan goes, US strategy for now is a bit unclear. Domestically, Pakistan – which is still working hard towards meeting FATF conditions – has waged a long and hard struggle against the Pakistani Taliban. The fight against proscribed groups is not yet over, though. ­

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