“Kidnappings Rise in Pakistan to Fund Splintering Taliban”
The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2014, p.A14
“Growing factionalization within the Pakistani Taliban has spurred a rise in kidnappings of wealthy businessmen and influential figures, security officials say, as separate strands of the militant network seek funds for their terrorist activities. An officer from the Federal Investigation Agency who works specifically on kidnapping cases said the splintering of the Pakistani Taliban, formally known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, has led to more such crime in the past two years. … Security officials also warn that the launch in June of the long-awaited military operation against Taliban strongholds in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has sent a new wave of militants into the cities, and that criminal activity there may increase as a result. Pakistan’s commercial hub, Karachi, has long been a notorious center for kidnapping, but these crimes are now increasingly being committed by Taliban factions or criminals they subcontract. Taliban-linked groups are also extending the practice to parts of the country where kidnappings have been rarer, including the capital, Islamabad. The Taliban offer protection to kidnapping gangs in return for a cut of the proceeds. The criminals get access to havens in Taliban-controlled parts of the tribal areas, while the Taliban factions get the funding they need to operate. In some cases, kidnapping gangs of ordinary criminals sell their victims to the Taliban-linked groups, which then demand much higher ransoms from their families, said the Punjab police officer.”
Quickie Analysis: With different sub-brands all fighting for market share, the Pakistani Taliban seems to be halfway between a jihadi insurgency and an old-fashioned protection racket.