WASHINGTON: The Unit­­ed States has declared four Tehreek-i-Taliban Pak­istan (TTP) and South Asian Al Qaeda leaders as global terrorists and vowed to use its full might against all Afghanistan-based terror groups.

“The United States is committed to using its full set of counterterrorism tools to counter the threat posed by terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan,” the US State Department said on Thursday evening.

The announcement identified “Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)” as the two groups that were using the Afghan soil for spreading terror in the region.

TTP deputy emir Qari Amjad, one of the four leaders added to the US list of designated terrorists, was identified as the man who “oversees TTP’s operations and militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province”.

He is also known as Mufti Hazrat Deroji, and his 15-year campaign of violence against Pakistan has stepped up since the Taliban seized control in Afghanistan last year.

The three AQIS leaders added to the list include its self-styled “emir” Osama Mehmood, who heads the regional branch of Al Qaeda’s network. The other two are Atif Yahya Ghouri,

the deputy emir of AQIS, and Mohammad Maruf who is responsible for AQIS’ recruiting branch.

All four were declared global terrorists because of “their leadership roles in their respective groups”, the State Department said, adding that the designations were “part of our relentless efforts to ensure that terrorists do not use Afghanistan as a platform for international terrorism”.

As a result of these actions, all property and interests in property of those designated that are subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and all US persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.

“The actions again demonstrate that we will continue to use all relevant tools to uphold our commitment to see to it that international terrorists are not able to operate with impunity in Afghanistan.”

While the warning about confiscation of property makes it illegal for all US citizens to have any links with the designated groups, the stress on not allowing terrorists to use Afghanistan as a base provides a much-needed assurance to Pakistan at a critical juncture.

On Monday, TTP ended its ceasefire with Pakistan and immediately launched attacks inside KP and Balochistan, killing half a dozen people and injuring scores of citizens.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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