UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. announced Friday it has added the Pakistani Taliban to its terrorism blacklist, subjecting it to an asset freeze and arms embargo in a move supported by the United States, Britain and the Pakistani government.
Pakistani Taliban militants have declared war against the Pakistani state and its security establishment and have often targeted government officials and security forces in their quest to topple the U.S.-allied government. The group also claimed responsibility for last year's failed car bombing in New York's Times Square.
The Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida said it added Tehrik-E Taliban Pakistan, better known as the Pakistani Taliban or the TTP, to its list of groups subject to an asset freeze and arms embargo. Its top leaders, Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Ur Rehman, have been on the list since last October and are subject to these sanctions as well as a travel ban.
That means all 193 U.N. member states are required to freeze any assets of the TTP or its leaders, prevent any weapons or ammunition from getting to them, and bar Mehsud and Ur Rehman from entering their countries.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant welcomed the committee's action.
"Today's action sends a strong message to those who support and finance terrorism, and reinforces U.S. efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida," Rice said in a statement.
Lyall Grant noted Pakistan's support, saying it "sends a powerful signal of the international community's solidarity and resolve in the fight against the TTP and international terrorism."
The Pakistani Taliban is a loose federation of tribal and regional factions which maintains strongholds along the country's northwestern tribal belt, where the militants are also believed to be providing safe havens for senior al-Qaida leaders. Its original leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in an Aug. 5, 2009, CIA missile strike in northwestern Pakistan and was replaced by his military chief, Hakimullah Mehsud.
"In addition to attacks against the people of Pakistan," Rice said, "TTP has carried out several notorious terrorist attacks against United States interests, including a December 2009 attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and an April 2010 bombing against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar."
Lyall Grant said the Pakistani Taliban "has clear links to al-Qaida at an operational level."
U.N. sanctions "will help to reduce its ability to operate effectively and perpetrate terrorist attacks," he said.
In a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts and more effectively fighting global terrorism, the Security Council voted last month to treat al-Qaida and the Taliban separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions.
Lyall Grant said the sanctions committee, which includes all 15 Security Council members, "made a conscious choice not to seek the wholesale listing of the Afghan Taliban at this time" in order to support the Afghan reconciliation process.
"But the Afghan Taliban should heed this message. The window will not be open forever. If the Taliban continue actively to work against the political process, continue attacks on civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan and U.N. Security Council-backed international forces, then we will seek the listing of key Taliban leaders, notably on the military side," Lyall Grant warned.
Last September, the Obama administration added the Pakistani Taliban and its two top leaders to its international terrorism sanctions blacklist. The State Department has also placed $5 million bounty on Mehsud and Rehman under its Rewards for Justice Program, for information leading to their arrest.
Pakistan's U.N. Mission spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.