UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations on Friday slapped sanctions on the Pakistani Taliban — thought to be behind last year’s failed bombing attempt on New York’s Times Square — for having links with al Qaeda.
The U.N. Security Council said its sanctions committee dealing with al Qaeda had imposed an assets freeze as well as a travel ban and arms embargo on the Pakistani group, also known by its Urdu name of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.
A council statement said the committee, which maintains a list of sanctioned groups and individuals, had also imposed the same measures on the Caucasus Emirate organization, an Islamist insurgent group based in Russia’s North Caucasus.
Founded in 2007 as a merger of some dozen groups, the TTP is based in tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, who is already on the sanctions list. A Pakistani newspaper reported this month that Mehsud’s control of the group may now be weakening.
The TTP claimed responsibility for a botched attempt by Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad to explode a crude bomb packed into a sport utility vehicle in Times Square in May of last year. The bomb failed to go off and Shahzad was jailed for life in the United States.
In Pakistan, the TTP has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks including a 2009 strike on a police academy in Lahore that killed eight cadets and an assault on a Karachi naval base two months ago. It also claimed it carried out a suicide attack that killed seven CIA employees at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in December, 2009.
Both the TTP and the Caucasus Emirate are on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Security Council diplomats said the designation of the TTP on the U.N. sanctions list had been supported by Pakistan’s government.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said “sends a powerful signal of the international community’s solidarity and resolve in the fight against the TTP and international terrorism.”
The move would “help to reduce its ability to operate effectively and perpetrate terrorist attacks,” he said in a statement.
The Security Council formerly kept a joint sanctions list for al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban but recently split them into two and took 14 names off the Afghan Taliban list in what envoys said was a bid to entice the group into peace talks.
The Caucasus Emirate, founded in 2007, is led by Doku Umarov, Russia’s most wanted Islamist militant. Chechen-born Umarov, who has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, claimed responsibility for masterminding a January suicide bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, which killed 37 people.
Editing by Christopher Wilson