United States is still considering if the Pakistan Taliban blamed for the failed plot by a Pakistani-American to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square more than a week ago should be labelled a terrorist organization.
"We are considering the question of designating the Pakistani Taliban (as a terrorist outfit). Now it is the matter of meeting the legal requirements," State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters Tuesday.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP "is a group that we have been focused on for some time, but I think in light of the Times Square attempt, it's something we're looking at very closely."
The State department was being "intentionally deliberate" in studying whether to add the Pakistan Taliban to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, he said.
"And any group that is to be designated must meet very specific legal criteria, but it is something that we are considering in light of what happened."
"I can't recite the history of this particular group but it has not been in existence for that long. But obviously it has come into sharp relief in light of Times Square bombing and this is something that we are actively considering," Crowley said.
The State Department's comments came as five Democrat lawmakers led by New York senator Charles Schumer urged the Obama administration Tuesday to add TTP to the US list of foreign terrorist organizations.
"I was shocked to learn that the group was omitted from the list," Schumer told reporters. "They've declared war on the citizens of the United States. We must respond appropriately."
The chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California, said she thought the group belonged on the list even before the Times Square incident.
But Senior Republican on the intelligence panel, Kit Bond, said after a classified briefing that there was not enough evidence yet to support claims by senior Obama administration officials that the Pakistan Taliban was behind the attempted bombing in New York.
Naming the group to the list allows prosecutors to use an anti-terror statute to criminally charge those who provide support to such groups. That has helped the US crack down on people in the US who send terrorists equipment, money or recruits.