A string of organizational mergers and intensified operational activity since the summer of 2020, including a claimed suicide bombing targeting a luxury hotel in Quetta in April 2021, suggests the Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could soon again pose a major threat in Pakistan. TTP’s leadership appears at least for now to have consolidated its control of the primary networks that comprise, and form the basis of, the group. In so doing, it appears to have overcome the existential challenge posed by internal fragmentation and the Islamic State in Khorasan, the Islamic State’s wing in the region (ISK). In 2015, ISK was primarily formed by disgruntled TTP members and leaders dissatisfied with the leadership of their own group and the large number of defections in the years that followed put the TTP’s future in peril.
This article draws on open-source materials and interviews to examine the recent resurgence in TTP operations. The first section provides a historical overview of the rise, fall, and revival of the TTP. The second section examines how the group was able to eventually overcome the existential challenge posed by internal fragmentation and the Islamic State and how it has reduced its targeting of civilians to try to win back supporters who had been turned off by its indiscriminate violence. The third section outlines how TTP has reunified its ranks, which has allowed the group to again expand its operations, as documented in the fourth section of the article. The final section makes some observations about the threat outlook.