Washington/Islamabad: The US has slapped sanctions on the chief of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Noor Wali Mehsud and designated him as a global terrorist, as the Trump administration unveiled new tools to pursue terror suspects, their financiers and supporters globally.
Mehsud was designated as a 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist' by the US Department of State on Tuesday, on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Mehsud took over the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in June 2018 following the death of Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan.
"Noor Wali, also known as Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, was named the leader of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in June 2018 following the death of former TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah," according to a State Department statement.
"Under Noor Wali's leadership, TTP has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan," it said.
The US actions seek to deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks. All of their property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them, the statement said.
Interestingly, Mehsud's designation came on the same day India described Pakistan as the "epicentre" of global terrorism.
While countering Pakistan's offensive against India on the Kashmir issue at the 42nd UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Vijay Thakur Singh said "the world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years. This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of 'alternate diplomacy'."
Since its establishment in 2007, the TTP has remained a potent threat and the most dangerous Islamist terrorist organisation in Pakistan. The TTP has been involved in more than 1,400 terrorist attacks in Pakistan over the last 12 years.
The revitalised TTP under Mehsud appears to have grown deadlier than it has been in recent years and could potentially usher in some changes to the current jihadist landscape of Pakistan, according to an article published by the Jamestown Foundation, Washington-based institute for research and analysis, in May.
Mehsud is among 12 Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) leaders of previously designated groups including TTP, Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic State (IS), IS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa and an al Qaeda affiliated group fighting in Syria.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday on 'modernising and strengthening sanctions authorities to combat terrorism.'
"Today's executive order by President Trump adds further muscle to US counterterrorism efforts," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a briefing to reporters at the White House.
He said Trump's action amends an earlier executive order that former President George W. Bush initially signed after the 9/11 attacks by adding clauses to let the State and Treasury departments directly target leaders of suspected terror groups and their affiliates "without having to tie terrorist leaders to specific acts."
Pompeo said the order also more effectively targets individuals and groups participating in terrorist training and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with suspected terrorists.
Commenting on the order signed by Trump, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said, "These new tools aid our unrelenting efforts to cut off terrorists from their sources of support and deprive them of the funds required to carry out their destructive activities.
"They serve as a powerful deterrent to radical terror groups and those seeking to aid their nefarious goals," he added.
"Terrorist designations expose and isolate organisations and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments," the state department said in a press release.
All property and interests in property of the targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons will be blocked and reported to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
"OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons," explained US Treasury Department in a statement.
"In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individual designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to enforcement action," it said.