Open Source Center Analysis: TTP Leader Says Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets Among TTP Targets
- 2 pages
- For Official Use Only
- May 1, 2012
Despite past denials by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders that the group intends to target Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, TTP Mohmand Agency leader Omar Khalid said in a 21 March video that the TTP aims to use Pakistan’s nuclear technology, among other assets, to ensure Islam’s survival. This is the first time that OSC has observed a TTP leader publicly list Pakistan’s nuclear weapons among its goals. Other elements of Khalid’s statement suggest that he may be seeking to boost his own stature within the group.
In a 21 March Pashto-language video statement posted to pro-Al-Qa’ida, pro-TTP website Babul-Islam, Khalid listed, among several other ostensibly far-fetched goals, the TTP’s aim to “utilize Pakistan’s strengths such as its Army, weapons, atom bomb, technology, and other power[s] for the betterment of the Muslim ummah [community] and Islam’s survival.”
- A commentary in influential daily The News described Khalid as Al-Qa’ida’s “henchman” and argued that his announcement was part of Al-Qa’ida’s “game plan” (8 April). By contrast, in the past, TTP leaders denied any intent to seize or otherwise utilize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Since 21 March, OSC has seen no public statements by other top TTP figures indicating whether they endorse Khalid’s remarks.
- In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in May 2011, approximately 10 months before the release of Khalid’s statement, TTP’s main spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan — who speaks for the group’s Waziristan-based top leaders — was cited as saying that the TTP has “no plan whatsoever to attack Pakistan’s nuclear assets” (Jinnah, 27 May 2011).
- Similarly, now deceased TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud in a 2008 Al-Jazirah Television interview, said that the TTP is “not thinking of using a nuclear bomb” because, he said, it leads to killing innocent women and children, which is forbidden in Islam. He did say, however, that “we pray to God to help Muslims seize all nuclear bombs from the infidels” (25 January 2008).
- Khalid may be trying to boost his own standing in the TTP. In the 21 March statement, he outlined TTP history, portraying his role in its formation as key. He also touted his fighters as “fully organized, united, and strong,” saying they no longer need help from Waziristan.
Previous Khalid Statements Omar Khalid appeared to play a prominent role in the TTP’s 2011 propaganda campaign, appearing in several videos — one of which also depicted Hakimullah Mehsud — and creating his own magazine. In his past statements, Khalid has threatened revenge for the attacks on Usama Bin Ladin, claimed responsibility for an attack in Peshawar using a female suicide bomber, and rejected peace talks with the government.