The United States has designated the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).
President Donald Trump signed the executive order on “Modernising Sanctions to Combat Terrorism” on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Mehsud was among 12 leaders of previously designated groups — including Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS Phillipines, and ISIS West Africa — who were designated as SDGTs on September 10.
The US action against the TTP terrorist came on a day when India described Pakistan as the “epicentre” of global terrorism at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud
Mehsud succeeded Maulana Fazlullah as the leader of the TTP in 2018 after Fazlullah was killed in a US counter-terrorism strike in northeastern Afghanistan’s Kunar. The veteran jihadist belongs to the Mehsud tribe of North and South Waziristan, and is also known as Abu Mansoor Asim. The earlier leaders of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud and Hakeemullah Mehsud, both came from South Waziristan.
Mehsud is believed to have fought against the North Alliance alongside the Afghan Taliban before the US invaded Afghanistan. He subsequently served as a senior military commander, and led the TTP in Karachi.
A religious scholar, Mehsud authored a book released in 2017 titled, ‘The Mehsud Revolution in South Waziristan: From British Raj to Oppressive America’, in which he claimed that the TTP was responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
Individuals or entities designated as SDGTs have either already taken part in terrorist activities or are believed to be potential threats by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury.
An individual is designated as an SDGT by the US Department of State or the Department of the Treasury in consultation with the Department of Justice under the provisions of Executive Order 13224, an order that was issued by President George W Bush on September 23, 2001, and which has been renewed annually thereafter.
Executive Order 13224, issued in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was aimed at “Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism”.
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Implications of designation
Individuals acting as a part of terrorist organisations, terrorist groups and financiers of these groups can be designated as SDGTs.
Once an individual or an entity is designated an SDGT by the United States Secretary of State or Secretary of the Treasury, their assets in the US or their possessions held by “US persons” are frozen or blocked, which means that they cannot be exported or dealt with.
This includes leaders of terrorist organisations and individuals who have participated in terrorism-related training activities.
On July 16, Ali Maychou, a member of the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), a West-African terrorist group was designated an SDGT.
Apart from SDGT, terrorist groups can be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) by the Department of State under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
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