TCAP Expansion Profile: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

We present here an analysis of Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and why they are being added to the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform’s Inclusion Policy. Blogs will be published for each new entity explaining the reasons for inclusion.

TTP Inclusion Graphic

Reasons for inclusion

· Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is widely considered a terrorist organisation as reflected by its designation status as a terrorist organisation by 6 designating authorities consulted for the TCAP.

· TTP retains significant capacity to operate freely along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and carry out regular attacks against the Pakistani security forces and other government personnel, recently escalating its violent activities.

· TTP’s official media organisation produces and disseminates a wide variety of propaganda content online in multiple languages, primarily in Urdu.

· The TTP website acts as a centralised location where official content is initially posted. It is then redistributed by supporter networks across other platforms, including messaging apps, social media, archiving, and file-sharing sites. This content is moderated on larger social media platforms but is easily accessible elsewhere.

Legal status

TTP Designation table


Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was founded in December 2007 as an umbrella organisation for pro-Taliban groups operating mostly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Formed under the leadership of militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, who has since died, TTP (also known as the Pakistani Taliban) is rooted along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  TTP’s primary objective is the overthrow of the government of Pakistan in order to establish an Islamic Emirate under Sharia Law, beginning in Pakistan's tribal areas.

TTP utilises terrorism to destabilise Pakistan by directly attacking the Pakistani army and assassinating politicians. The group also periodically supported the Afghan Taliban in their campaign against NATO forces and the western-backed Government of Afghanistan and now backs their rule in Kabul. The group is now led by Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud following the death of the former leader, Maulana Fazlullah, in 2018, and maintains links to Al-Qaida (AQ), Lashka-e-Jahngvi (LJ) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

TTP has been responsible for numerous bomb and suicide attacks since its inception, mainly conducted against Pakistan defence forces, law enforcement personnel, and civilians. TTP is responsible for a suicide attack on the World Food Programme headquarters in Islamabad in October 2009, and for killing more than 50 people in Mohmand Tribal Agency in in July 2010. Additionally, the group has been involved in attacks against Western targets, including a coordinated assault against the United States Consulate in Peshawar in April 2010 and an attempted Times Square car-bomb attack in May 2010.  Amid an escalation of violence claimed by TTP in early 2023, a faction of the group claimed responsibility[1] for a suicide bomb attack in a mosque in Peshawar which killed over 100 people, including many police officers.

TTP attack graph
Figure 1: Number of TTP-linked attacks per year per region in Pakistan. Source: United States Institute of Peace.

Since 2014, Pakistani counterterrorism operations, internal splits, and the death of TTP’s long-term leader in 2018 has weakened the organisation. However, since the February 2020 peace deal between the Afghan Taliban and the US, TTP has undergone a strong resurgence. This has been the result of multiple factors including the TTP merging with ten militant groups in July 2020, the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the subsequent release of hundreds of TTP prisoners, as well as the full operational freedom granted by the Taliban government. A 2022 estimate by the Congressional Research Service suggests the TTP now has around 3,000-6,000 members, although estimates have ranged widely.

TTP claimed responsibility for a large number of attacks in the months following the Afghan government’s collapse, generating the highest average monthly frequency in the last five to six years. In June 2022, a ceasefire- facilitated by the Afghan Taliban- was agreed between the TTP and the Pakistani Government amid negotiations for a sustainable peace settlement. However, tensions between the two parties have since escalated following the TTP unilaterally ending the ceasefire in November and ordering attacks across Pakistan.

Online activity assessment

TTP has established an extensive and resilient online presence across a range of different platforms, from messaging apps to social media. TTP’s online presence has been growing since it launched its official media outlet in late 2010. Since then, the group has developed a centralised “media commission” and spokesperson under the fictitious name “Muhammad Khorasani.” The media arm has significantly enhanced its operations, both in terms of volume and quality of its propaganda output, since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, playing an important role in the group’s resurgence.[2]

TTP’s official media outlet regularly reports on attacks, glorifies its militants, and propagates the Deobandi Islamist ideology. It produces audio, video, and text materials originally in Urdu and Pashto, which are mostly reproduced in English, Dari/Persian, and Arabic. These include several video series, a daily radio broadcast, a bi-weekly current affairs podcast, an Urdu magazine, and statements on TTP-claimed attacks and political issues.[3]

TTP maintains an official Urdu language website which acts as a centralised location for all its propaganda content, including magazines, videos, poems, and books. This site has undergone periodic domain changes, likely due to suspensions by the tech industry. The site averages 11,000 monthly visits, with 65% of website traffic coming from Pakistan.

The group publishes its official propaganda on its website and a niche social media platform popular among Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as dedicated messaging app channels. This propaganda content is then re-circulated by supporter networks on social media platforms, including mainstream ones, as well as archiving and file-sharing platforms.

Online dissemination of TTP propaganda content is sophisticated and well established, making it easily accessible across a variety of platforms and in multiple languages. According to BBC Monitoring, TTP propaganda officials are actively trying to establish contacts with Afghan and Pakistani journalists to allow even wider dissemination of TTP material.[4] With its official media outlet now operating under the TTP’s “Information and Broadcasting Ministry”, it has become an organised body with considerable human resources. This is evident in its accelerated propaganda output, including five new video series in the last few months of 2022, a new bi-weekly podcast, and the announcement in January 2023 of a more regular release of its flagship magazine (now monthly).

Alerting TTP propaganda

In line with the TCAP’s Inclusion Policy, we will only be alerting official content produced by TTP. This will include any content produced by TTP’s official media outlet, and branded as such including videos, magazines, and statements. We will alert all official content whether it is in Urdu, Pashtu, English, Dari or Arabic. Supporter-generated content, accounts, and channels will not be in scope.

This entry is part of a series of monthly blogs dedicated to TCAP expansion, explaining the reasons for inclusion of each new TCAP entity. You can find our full Inclusion Policy, which explains the process and legal grounding we use for deciding which terrorist content we alert here.

[1] Note, an official spokesperson for TTP distanced themselves from the attack, stating it is not their policy to target mosques.

[2] BBC Monitoring, “Analysis: Resurgence of Umar Media boosts Pakistani Taliban messaging”.

[3] BBC Monitoring, “Analysis: Resurgence of Umar Media boosts Pakistani Taliban messaging”.

[4] BBC Monitoring, “Analysis: Resurgence of Umar Media boosts Pakistani Taliban messaging”.