The United States on Wednesday designated two ‘Pakistan-based’ groups with links to the Taliban as global terrorist threats.
A statement issued by U.S State Department said that as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists”, US citizens are forbidden from associating with the Tariq Gidar Group (TGG) and the Jamaat ul Dawa al-Qu’ran (JDQ).
It said any assets owned by the groups under U.S jurisdiction will be frozen, and U.S law enforcement will be authorized to investigate their activities.
The State Department claimed that the TGG is linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and is based in Darra Adam Khel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
According to the statement, the Gidar group was responsible for the attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar that killed over 150 people mostly children in December 2014.
The group is led by Omar Mansour, who is said to also have ordered the January 2016 attack on a university in Charsadda that left more than 20 dead.
U.S State Department also said the TGG was behind the 2008 kidnapping and beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak in Attock.
The second group, the JDQ, is said to be based in Peshawar but has sworn allegiance to the late leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar. The JDQ also has alliances with al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the statement added.
The group has also been blamed for the 2010 kidnapping of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. Norgrove died after being wounded in the explosion of a grenade thrown by a U.S Navy SEAL commando during a failed rescue attempt.
This comes after the U.S earlier this week said it hopes the newly appointed Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada decides to work toward negotiating a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.
U.S Department of State spokesperson Mark Toner said on Wednesday: “We would hope that he [Akhundzada] would seize the opportunity…to choose peace and to work towards a negotiated solution,” Toner stated. “We hope he makes that choice now.”
Toner also confirmed that Akhundzada was not on the U.S designated terrorist list.
US Department of Defense spokesman Adam Stump told U.S reporters that the appointment of Akhundzada as the new leader of the Taliban will not interfere with US efforts to achieve reconciliation between the group and the government of Afghanistan.