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Security

TTP fissures on display in new strategy document

Shattered by military operations and public rejection, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan outlined a new strategy for militants that inadvertently highlights its leaders' frustrations and fears.

By Zia Ur Rehman


Pictured here is the first page of the TTP's new 'strategy document'. [File]

Pictured here is the first page of the TTP's new 'strategy document'. [File]

KARACHI -- Crippled by the government's ongoing counter-terrorism crackdown, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is desperately attempting to re-establish its network and overcome internal disputes and growing public disdain.

The group released a 13-page strategy document in late September aimed at reconstituting itself.

Drafted in Urdu, the document is designed as an instruction booklet for TTP fighters, outlining the group's future plans in ten chapters, including topics such as identifying targets, distributing spoils of war, using suicide bombers, treating hostages and acting against spies.

Growing mistrust and strife

The new strategy document is an attempt by new TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali to tighten his grip over the group, analysts say. Noor succeeded Mullah Fazlullah after he was killed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in June.

"The militant group has lost its appeal and because of that most of the factions began to splinter from the organisation, operating independently or pledging allegiances to terror outfits such as ["Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS)]," Muhammad Ismail Khan, an Islamabad-based security researcher associated with the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, told Pakistan Forward

Because of the feuding within the TTP, the killing of militants from rival groups labeled as "spies" has grown more common.

"After Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman for TTP and Jamatul Ahrar, surrendered, the infighting and killing of militants by rival groups grew not only in Mohmand and Bajaur districts but also in Kunar Province, Afghanistan," said a Peshawar-based intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

On October 5, the TTP claimed responsibility for killing a former TTP commander in the Dara Adamkhel area named Arif, alias Kaka, "for changing sides and surrendering to the security forces", The News reported.

The TTP's strategy document prohibits low ranking militants from killing each other.

"If a person is proved to be involved in espionage, only the emir or naib emir [deputy emir] will kill him," the document said.

Outrage over civilian deaths

Facing growing public outrage, the TTP has allegedly dropped its policy of targeting political rallies and electoral candidates. The strategy document instructs militants not to attack them in the future.

It stresses, however, that targeting security agencies and security personnel, as well as judges, lawyers and pro-government lashkars (tribal militias), will be a priority.

The TTP has a history of killing civilians in public places, including schools, mosques and political rallies.

In a recent example on July 10, a TTP suicide bomber killed Awami National Party-affiliated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly candidate Haroon Bashir Bilour and at least 20 other Pakistanis in Peshawar.

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