Pak Taliban expanding alliances with other groups: NYT

The Pakistani Taliban has expanded its alliances with al Qaeda and other extremist outfits in the region.

Updated: May 07, 2010, 18:31 PM IST

New York: The Pakistani Taliban, which American investigators suspect is behind the attempt to bomb Times Square, has expanded its alliances with al Qaeda and other extremist outfits in the region, threatening to extend their reach and ambitions, a media report said on Friday.

"The Taliban is the local partner of al Qaeda in Pakistan," Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, told `The New York Times`.

"It has no capacity for an international agenda on its own," Rana said.

While the group has been bruised by the drone attacks as well as operations conducted by the Pakistani military, it has maintained it strength by expanding its connections with other militants.

"The Pakistani Taliban have sustained themselves through alliances with any number of other militant groups, splinter cells, foot soldiers and guns-for-hire in the areas under their control," the daily said.

The Pakistan Taliban is now suspected to be behind Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad`s failed attempt to blow up a car packed with explosives in Times Square on Saturday.

Shahzad had admitted to attending a terror training camp in Waziristan tribal region.

But, the group has denied responsibility. "The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has had no links with Faisal Shahzad whatsoever," the spokesman, Azam Tariq, said in a phone call to reporters in Peshawar from an undisclosed location.

"We never imparted training to him, nor had he ever come to us," he said.

The top leadership of the militant group remains at large and has sought new refuge largely in North Waziristan and its chief Hakimullah Mehsud has warned the US that there will be future attacks carried out inside the country.

"There are training camps all over North and South Waziristan," a Western diplomat told NYT.

Western diplomats and intelligence officials were quoted as saying that the extremist groups in the area had "morphed", which made it difficult to single out the Pakistan Taliban and fight against it.

"They trade bomb makers and people around," a senior US intelligence official said.

"It`s becoming this witches` brew." The senior intelligence official said that in recent years the overall ability and lethality of these groups had dropped, but that the threat to countries like the US had increased somewhat because the groups cooperated against a range of targets.