Highlights

  • UN report says Pakistan Taliban set up a new base in 2023
  • UN: base established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa trained suicide bombers
  • Report: an increase of Afghan nationals in Pakistan Taliban.

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New Pakistan Taliban base set up in 2023 to train suicide bombers: UN report

The United Nations has released a report stating that the Pakistan Taliban set up a new base in 2023

New Pakistan Taliban base set up in 2023 to train suicide bombers: UN report

A new Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) base was established in mid-2023 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan where over 60 individuals associated with the terror group have been trained as suicide bombers, according to a UN report.

The 33rd report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL (Da'esh), Al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities said that TTP was further strengthened and emboldened, increasing attacks with a broader degree of autonomy to manoeuvre.

“The Taliban are generally sympathetic to TTP aims. Besides supplying weapons and equipment, Taliban rank and file, Al-Qaeda core and AQIS (Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) fighters assisted TTP forces in cross-border attacks,” the report issued here on Thursday said.

“A new TTP base was established in mid-2023 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, where 66 TTP individuals trained as suicide bombers. A notable development is the increase of Afghan nationals in the TTP ranks,” it said.

The interlocutors said TTP members and their families receive regular aid packages from the Taliban, the report suggested.

The report said Al-Qaeda core and AQIS continued to provide training, ideological guidance and support to the TTP.

“Regionally focused groups such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, enabled by a range of listed actors, pose a regional threat in South and Central Asia, with several attacks being supported from within Afghanistan,” the report said.

It noted that activity by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) in Afghanistan has reduced, but its ability to project threat in the region and beyond causes member states concern.

“The de facto authorities’ efforts against ISIL-K appear to be more focused on the internal threat posed to them than the external operations of the group,” it said.

The report further said that “TTP and the new group Tehrik-e Jihad Pakistan (TJP, reported to be a front for TTP, possibly with support from Al-Qaeda, providing plausible deniability) can operate from Afghan territory across borders. The extent to which this is becoming an Afghan issue, rather than one of foreign terrorist fighters, is significant. Several member states reported that recruitment of Afghans to both TTP and ISIL-K was now substantial, with Afghans often being used for operations.” It said member states continue to report that the high concentration of terrorist groups in Afghanistan undermines the security situation in the region. The greatest threat within Afghanistan still comes from ISIL-K, with its ability to project into the region and beyond.

“The relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remains close, and the latter maintains a holding pattern in Afghanistan under Taliban patronage,” it said.

Regional states assess that the presence of Al-Qaeda senior figures in the country has not changed and that the group continues to pose a threat in the region, and potentially beyond.

In Afghanistan, the challenges facing the Taliban, as the de facto authorities, in managing competing dimensions of terrorist threat and external pressure are significant.

“There have been reports of tensions with senior Al-Qaeda figures, who resent attempts at control, but the relationship remains strong, particularly with Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which has been permitted to provide support to TTP operations and to work to enhance TTP capabilities,” it said.

Further, it said that remaining, long-standing Al-Qaeda figures in Afghanistan are not likely to be able to provide strategic direction to the broader organisation, and the group cannot at present project sophisticated attacks at long range.

“One member state noted the number of senior Al-Qaeda figures in Afghanistan, with historical ties to the group, to be fewer than a dozen,” it said.

Al-Qaeda was reported to have established up to eight new training camps in Afghanistan, including four in Ghazni, Laghman, Parwan and Uruzgan provinces, with a new base to stockpile weapons in the Panjshir Valley.

“Some camps might be temporary. Hakim al-Masri (not listed), based in Kunar province, is responsible for the training camps and conducting suicide bomber training for TTP. Five Al-Qaeda madrasas operate in Laghman, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Parwan provinces,” it said.

Member states assessed that despite the recent loss of territory, casualties, and high attrition among senior and mid-tier leadership figures, ISIL-K continued to pose a major threat in Afghanistan and the region, it said.

Islamabad has repeatedly expressed its frustration over the Afghan Taliban’s inaction against the outlawed TTP, which has been responsible for major terrorist attacks within Pakistan.

Afghan Taliban’s failure to curb TTP’s activities has led to strained relations between the two countries. Pakistan views Kabul’s reluctance to tackle the TTP as a direct threat to its national security.

The Afghan Taliban’s temporary imprisonment of between 70 and 200 TTP members and their strategy of moving personnel northward, away from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, is perceived as an effort to alleviate Pakistani pressure to tackle the banned TTP activities.

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