Just days after announcing that they were setting up a base to facilitate “cooperation” with Syrian rebels, Pakistan’s Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has announced that it has sent “hundreds of men” to fight in that nation’s civil war.
The fighters represent a major boost for Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist faction that the TTP fighters will reportedly fight alongside. The group, which has seen a falling out with secular rebels in recent days, will now enjoy an influx of combat-experienced Pakistani fighters.
What it means for the TTP is less clear, as the group’s sudden efforts to set up shop in another country may suggest that they are planning to be less aggressive inside Pakistan’s tribal areas in the near-term, while hoping the foreign jihad bolsters recruitment in the long run.
It also makes US plans to start arming Syria’s rebel fighters even more dicey, with yet another Islamist faction likely to acquire some of those weapons and likely to use them directly against US forces in the future.