US blacklists Pakistani terrorist group

Pakistan Foreign Office welcomes the move, saying Islamabad has long pleaded concrete action against the TTP and their like who operate in Afghanistan.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A file photo of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar commanders. Umar Khalid Khurassani in the middle as its leader.

The United States has designated Pakistani Taliban breakaway faction - Jamaat-ul-Alhrar - a global terrorist organisation.

The group is believed to be behind a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and outside in the recent months. The group is also suspected of having a role in the terrorist attacks in the Paris and Brussels.

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a press briefing after a Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter DAESH.

The US State Department said the designation of the group as global terrorist is a powerful tool against the Taliban group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the bombing suspect Mohamed Abrini because it puts the public on notice that they are "actively engaged in terrorism" and imposes strict financial sanctions on them.

Why Jamaat-ul-Ahrar blacklisted?

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has been blamed for several attacks in Pakistan, including a suicide bombing in March targeting Christians celebrating Easter in Lahore. At least 70 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 injured.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar was founded in August 2014 by Abdul Wali alias Umar Khalid Khurassani, a former leader of a Pakistani Taliban and is said to be based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, the department said.

The group was also allegedly involved in the killings of  two Pakistani employees of the US consulate in Peshawar a few months back.

Nizam Khan Dawar, an analyst on militacy and tribal issues in Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the decision to declare Jamaat-ul-Ahrar as global terrorist group was a positive one but its too late.

"The group is not as strong as it used to be," he added.

Pakistan welcomes the decision

Pakistan has welcomed the US move to add the militant group, which has been allegedly involved in a number of terrorist attacks against the civilians, security forces and the minorities.  

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for at least five major attacks in Pakistan since December, including the Easter Sunday bombing in a public park that killed 70 people in the city of Lahore.

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told a weekly media briefing on Thursday, “Pakistan welcomes the decision.”

“Pakistan has long pleaded concrete action against the TTP and their like who operate in Afghanistan, and they have planned and launched a number of attacks in Pakistan while operating from there,” he said.

Pakistani Taliban and its affiliated groups were driven out of the tribal region in military operations since June 2014.   

Pakistani security officials believe that Pakistani militants had fled to Afghanistan after coordinated military offensives in the restive tribal regions of Pakistan.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have been accusing each other on providing safe havens to the militants on their soil.  

TRTWorld and agencies