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|Participant in the War in Afghanistan (1978–present)|
|Active||c. 1980 – present|
|Opponents||Government of Afghanistan and ISAF forces|
|Participant in the War in Afghanistan (1978–present)|
|Active||c. 1980 – present|
|Opponents||Government of Afghanistan and ISAF forces|
The Haqqani Network is an Islamist insurgent group using asymmetric warfare to fight against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani lead the group. The group operates on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and U.S. officials believe it is based in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal frontier. The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban.
The Haqqani Network's root values are Islamic and Nationalistic. They seek to re-establish sharia law, a law derived from Islamic moral and religious values, as the nation's pillar of government. They are ideologically aligned with the Taliban, who has worked to eradicate Western influence and restructure the government into a strictly Sharia-following state. This was exemplified in the government that formed after Soviet Troops were driven from Afghanistan. Both groups have the common goal of disrupting the Western military and political efforts in Afghanistan and driving them from the country permanently. Currently the group demands that US and Coalition Forces, made up mostly of NATO Nations, withdraw from Afghanistan and no longer interfere with the politics or educational systems of Islamic nations.
Originating in Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani family hails from southeastern Afghanistan and belongs to the Mezi Clan of the Zadran Pashtun tribe. Jalalludin Haqqani rose to prominence as a senior military leader during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Haqqani was more successful than other resistance leaders at forging relationships with outsiders prepared to sponsor resistance to the Soviets, including the CIA, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and wealthy Arab private donors from the Persian Gulf.
Jalaluddin Haqqani commanded the Mujahideen Army from 1980-1992, he is credited with recruiting foreign fighters. Two notable jihadist are two well known Arabs, Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden, both began their careers as volunteers for the Haqqani’s and trained to fight the Soviets. “Al-Qa’ida and the Haqqani network, in other words, evolved together, and they have remained intertwined throughout their history. They remain so to this day. The Haqqani Network's relationship with Al-Qaeda dates back to the founding of AQ. The significant difference between the two organizations is that Al-Qaeda's goals are global and use global means; whereas Haqqani is solely interested in Afghanistan and the Pashtun Tribal regions. To Jalaluddin Haqqani he is more interested in the influence of Islamic Law over Afghanistan than the global Jihad. Nonetheless the Haqqani Network has always been fully aware of Al-Qaeda's intentions and goals.
These two groups are intertwined in tactics, strategy, and Islamic extremism; J. Haqqani realized the importance of Azzam’s “foundational Islamic legal decisions declaring the Afghan jihad a universally and individually binding duty borne by all Muslims worldwide.” Though many Muslim leaders asked for aid from oil wealthy Arab nations in 1978 when Afghan Communists with the backing of the Soviet Union conquered Kabul. J. Haqqani was the only Afghan Islamic Resistance leader to also request foreign Muslim fighters, and was the only group to welcome non-Afghan’s into its ranks. Thus “linking it to the broader Jihad struggles and giving birth to the following decade to what would come to be known as global jihadism.”  Its the Haqqani Network's use of the Saudi Arabian financiers and other Arab investors in his mission that clearly highlights the groups understand of Global Jihad. A major difference between the Haqqani Network and Al-Qaeda is the spheres of influence they both seek to control. Al-Qaeda's is global, Haqqani's is regional.
Foreign jihadists recognized the network as a distinct entity as early as 1994, but Haqqani was not affiliated with the Taliban until they captured Kabul and assumed de facto control of Afghanistan in 1996. After the Taliban came to power, Haqqani accepted a cabinet level appointment as Minister of Tribal Affairs. Following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban government, the Haqqanis fled to the Pakistani bordering tribal regions and regrouped to fight against coalition forces across the border. As Jalaluddin has grown older his son Sirajuddin has taken over the responsibility of military operations. Journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad reported that President Hamid Karzai had invited the elder Haqqani to serve as Prime Minister in an attempt to bring "moderate" Taliban into the government. However, the offer was refused by Jalaluddin.
Many sources believe Jalaluddin Haqqani and his forces assisted with the escape of Al-Qaeda into safe-havens in Pakistan. Considering how closely the two groups are inter-twined it is not a stretch. It is well documented that the Haqqani Network did assist with the establishment of safe-havens. Analyst Peter Bergen argues this point in his book "The Battle for Tora Bora"  Judging by the possibilities and the amount of US Military assets focused on such a small region, the theory that the Haqqani Network most certainly aided in the escape seems reasonable. Regardless of exactly what occurred in those mountains, the Haqqanis played a role. And their actions of providing safe-havens for Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden shows the strength of bond and some role in or knowledge of Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden's escape.
According to US military commanders, it is "the most resilient enemy network" and one of the biggest threats to the U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan government in the current war in Afghanistan. It is also the most lethal network in Afghanistan. Presently, the United States is offering a reward for information leading to the capture of their leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, in the amount of $5,000,000.00.
In September 2012, the Obama administration labeled the network as a foreign terrorist organization. After this announcement, Taliban issued a statement arguing that there is "no separate entity or network in Afghanistan by the name of Haqqani" and that Jalaluddin Haqqani is a member of the Quetta Shura, Taliban's top leadership council.
Following Wikileaks' July 2010 publication of 75,000 classified documents the public learned that Sirajuddin Haqqani was in the tier one of the International Security Assistance Force's Joint Prioritized Effects List – its "kill or capture" list.
Anand Gopal of the Christian Science Monitor, citing unnamed US and Afghan sources, reported in June 2009 that the leadership is based in Miranshah, North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border. It operates from at least three compounds: a Miranshah bazaar camp containing a madrassa and computer facilities, a compound in the nearby suburb of Sarai Darpa Khel and another compound in Danday Darpa Khel, where some of Jalaluddin's family stay. The network is active in Afghanistan's southeastern areas of Paktia Province, Paktika Province, Khost Province, Wardak Province, Logar Province, and Ghazni Province. In September 2011, Sirajuddin Haqqani told Reuters that the group feels "more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people."
Some of Sirajuddin's brothers travel to the Persian Gulf region to raise funds from wealthy donors. The New York Times reported in September 2011 that the Haqqanis have set up a "ministate" in Miranshah with courts, tax offices and madrassas, and that the network runs a series of front companies selling automobiles and real estate. They also receive funds from extortion, kidnappings and smuggling operations throughout eastern Afghanistan. In an interview a former Haqqani commander called the extortion "the most important source of funding for the Haqqanis." According to a tribal elder in Paktia, "Haqqani's people ask for money from contractors working on road construction. They are asking money or goods from shopkeepers… District elders and contractors are paying money to Afghan workers, but sometimes half of the money will go to Haqqani's people."
Haqqani is reported to run his own training camps, to recruit his own foreign fighters, and to seek out financial and logistic support on his own, from his old contacts. Estimates of the Haqqanis's numbers vary. A 2009 New York Times article indicates that they are thought to have about 4,000 to 12,000 Taliban under their command while a 2011 report from the Combating Terrorism Center places its strength roughly at 10,000-15,000. During a September 2011 interview, Sirajuddin Haqqani said the figure of 10,000 fighters, as quoted in some media reports, "is actually less than the actual number." Throughout its history the network's operations have been conducted by small, semi-autonomous units organized according to tribal and sub-tribal affiliations often at the direction of and with the logistical support of Haqqani commanders.
The network is comprised broadly of four groups: those who have been with Jalalludin since the Soviet-era jihad, those from Loya Paktiya who have joined since 2001, those from North Waziristan who have joined in more recent years, and foreign militants of primarily Arab, Chechen and Uzbek origins. Leadership roles are mostly filled with personnel from the first group while the relative neophytes from Loya Paktia and non-Pushtuns are not part of this inner circle.
The Haqqani network pioneered the use of suicide attacks in Afghanistan and tend to use mostly foreign bombers whereas the Taliban tend to rely on locals in attacks. The network, according to the National Journal, supplies much of the potassium chlorate used in bombs employed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Also, the network's bombs use more sophisticated remote triggering devices than the pressure-plated activators used elsewhere in Afghanistan. Sirajuddin Haqqani told MSNBC in April 2009 that his fighters had, "acquired the modern technology that we were lacking, and we have mastered new and innovative methods of making bombs and explosives."
In late 2011, a 144-page book attributed to Sirajuddin Haqqani began circulating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Described by Newsweek as a "manual for guerrillas and terrorists," the Pashto-language book details instructions on setting up a jihadi cell, receiving financing, recruiting and training. The manual advises recruits that parental permission is not necessary for jihad, that all debts should be paid before joining, and that suicide bombings and beheadings are allowed by Islam.
Abdul Rashid Waziri, a specialist at Kabul's Center for Regional Studies of Afghanistan, explains that links between the Haqqani network and Pakistan can be traced back to the mid-1970s, before the 1978 Marxist revolution in Kabul. During the rule of President Daoud Khan in Afghanistan (1973–78), Jalaluddin Haqqani went into exile and based himself in and around Miranshah, Pakistan. From there he began to form a rebellion against the government of Daoud Khan in 1975. The network allegedly maintains ties with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Pakistan's army has been reportedly reluctant to move against them. The ISI spy network had links with the Haqqanis since at least the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. They provided CIA funds and assistance to the group during the Afghan resistance. While Pakistan has declared the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an enemy which engages in attacks against civilians and the state, the Haqqani group refrains from attacking the Pakistani state and thus, has traditionally been considered to be in the Pakistani sphere of what some analysts call the "good" Taliban. According to a July 2011 report published by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, the network acts as a key facilitator of negotiations between the Pakistani government and the TTP and as the "primary conduit" of many Pakistani Taliban fighters into Afghanistan. The News International also reported in October 2011 that the Haqqanis were urging the TTP to not fight Pakistani forces.
The Haqqani Network operates in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Northern Pakistan, near the southeastern border of Afghanistan. The network has used the ambiguity of the FATA to cloak their activities and avoid interference. This strategy worked well until President Obama ramped up UAV UAV strikes in Northern Waziristan region. The organizational headquarters is supposedly in Miram Shah, where the group operates base camps in order to facilitate activities such as; weapons acquisitions, logistical planning, and military strategy formulation. Haqqani-controlled regions of northern Pakistan have also served as strategic safe-havens for other Islamic militant organizations, such as al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). This strategic location of the Haqqani network facilitates interaction between many of these insurgent groups. Gopal, Anand, Mansur Khan Mahsud, and Brian Fishman.
The Haqqani Networks Tribal connections in Northern Waziristan and the de Facto regime it has established with courts, law enforcement, medical care, and governance; has often brought great support from the locals. The familiarity of terrain and knowledge of mountain passes also grants them excellent access in and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The New York Times reported in September 2008 that Pakistan regards the Haqqani's as an important force for protecting its interests in Afghanistan in the event of American withdrawal from there and therefore have been unwilling to move against them. Pakistan presumably[by whom?] feels pressured that India, Russia, and Iran are gaining a foothold in Afghanistan. Since it lacks the financial clout of these other countries, Pakistan hopes that by being a sanctuary for the Haqqani network, it can assert some influence over its turbulent neighbour. In the words of a retired senior Pakistani official: "[We] have no money. All we have are the crazies. So the crazies it is." The New York Times and Al Jazeera later reported in June 2010 that Pakistan's Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and chief of the ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pasha were in talks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai to broker a power-sharing agreement between the Haqqani network and the Afghan government. Reacting to this report both President Barack Obama and CIA director Leon Panetta responded with skepticism that such an effort could succeed. The effort to mediate between the Haqqanis and the Afghan government was launched by Pakistan after intense pressure by the US to take military action against the group in North Waziristan. Hamid Karzai later denied meeting anyone from the Haqqani network. Subsequently Kayani also denied that he took part in these talks.
In September 2011, Sirajuddin Haqqani claimed during a telephonic interview to Reuters that the Haqqani network no longer maintained sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan and the robust presence that it once had there and instead now felt safer in Afghanistan: "Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people." According to Haqqani, there were "senior military and police officials" who are aligned with the group and there are even sympathetic and "sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban" who support the group's aim of liberating Afghanistan "from the clutches of occupying forces." In response to questions from the BBC's Pashto service, Siraj denied any links to the ISI and stated that Mullah Omar is "our leader and we totally obey him."
Anti-American groups of Gul Bahadur and Haqqani carry out their activities in Afghanistan and use North Waziristan as rear. The group's links to Pakistan have been a sour point in Pakistan – United States relations. In September 2011, the Obama administration warned Pakistan that it must do more to cut ties with the Haqqani network and help eliminate its leaders, adding that "the United States will act unilaterally if Pakistan does not comply." In testimony before a US Senate panel, Admiral Mike Mullen stated that the network "acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency." Although some U.S. officials allege that the ISI supports and guides the Haqqanis, President Barack Obama declined to endorse that position and stated that "the intelligence is not as clear as we might like in terms of what exactly that relationship is" and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "We have no evidence of" Pakistani involvement in attacks on the US embassy in Kabul.
Pakistan in return rejected the notion that it maintained ties with the Haqqani network or used it in a policy of waging a proxy war in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistani officials deny the allegations by asserting that Pakistan had no relations with the network. In response to the allegations, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had "trained and produced" the Haqqani network and other mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani interior minister also warned that any incursion on Pakistani territory by U.S. forces will not be tolerated. A Pakistani intelligence official insisted that the American allegations are part of "pressure tactics" used by the United States as a strategy "to shift the war theatre." An unnamed Pakistani official was reported to have said after a meeting of the nation's top military officials that "We have already conveyed to the US that Pakistan cannot go beyond what it has already done". However, Pakistani claims were contradicted by the network's warnings against any U.S. military incursions into North Waziristan. However a month after the allegation, ties improved slightly and the US asked Pakistan to assist it in starting negotiation talks with the Taliban.
In July 2008, Jalaluddin's son Omar Haqqani was killed in a firefight with coalition forces in Paktia. In September 2008, Daande Darpkhel airstrike drones fired six missiles at the home of the Haqqanis and a madrasah run by the network. However both Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin were not present though several family members were killed. Among 23 people killed was one of Jalaluddin's two wives, sister, sister-in-law and eight of his grandchildren. In March 2009, the US State Department announced a reward of $5 million for information leading to the location, arrest, or conviction of Sirajuddin under the Rewards for Justice Program. In May 2010, US senator and United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein wrote to United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to add the Haqqani network to U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
ISAF and Afghan forces killed a network leader, Fazil Subhan, plus an unknown number of Haqqani militiamen, in a raid in Khost in the second week of June 2010. In a press release, ISAF reported that Subhan helped facilitate the movement of Al-Qaeda fighters into Afghanistan.
In late July 2011, U.S. and Afghan special forces killed dozens of insurgents during an operation in eastern Paktika province to clear a training camp the Haqqani network used for foreign (Arab and Chechen) fighters; reports of the number killed varied, with one source saying "more than 50" to "nearly 80". Disenfranchised insurgents told security forces where the camp was located, the coalition said.
On 1 October 2011, NATO announced the capture of Haji Mali Khan, "the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan," during an operation in Jani Khel district of Afghanistan's Paktia province. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied that the capture occurred while Haqqani network members declined to respond to the announcement.
According to an unnamed Pakistani official a US drone strike on a compound killed Jamil Haqqani, an "important Afghan commander of Haqqani network" responsible for logisitics in North Waziristan, on 13 October 2011. Three other network fighters were also killed in the two missile blasts. The compound was located in Dandey Darpakhel village, about 7 km (4 miles) north of Miranshah.
In mid-October 2011, Afghan and NATO forces launched "Operation Shamshir" and "Operation Knife Edge" against the Haqqani network in south-eastern Afghanistan, with the intent to counter possible security threats in the border regions. An ISAF spokesman said that Operation Shamshir "was aimed at securing key population centers and expanding the Kabul security zone," while Afghan Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, explained that Operation Knife Edge would "help eliminate the insurgents before they struck in areas along the troubled frontier." The two operations ended on 23 October 2011 and at least 20 insurgents, of the some 200 killed or captured, had ties to the Haqqani network according to ISAF.
On 2 November 2011, The Express Tribune reported that the Pakistani Army had agreed with the United States to restrict the network's movement along the Afghan border in exchange for America dropping its demands for a full-scale offensive. The report emerged soon after a visit by Hillary Clinton to Pakistan.
Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, has said that Haqqani can be defeated through a combination of a layered defense in Afghanistan and interdiction against the sanctuaries in Pakistan.
In June 2014 a drone attack reportedly killed 10 members of the Haqqani network including a high-level commander, Haji Gul, in the country's tribal area of North Waziristan. The Pakistan government publicly condemned the attack, but according to a government official had privately approved it.
Until 1 November 2011, six Haqqani network commanders were designated as terrorists under Executive Order 13224 since 2008 and their assets were frozen while prohibiting others from engaging in financial transactions with them:
In September 2011, the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted to make a $1 billion counter-insurgency aid package to the Pakistani military conditional upon Pakistani action against militant groups, including the Haqqani network. The decision would still need to receive approval from the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. According to the press release, "[t]he bill includes strengthened restrictions on assistance for Pakistan by conditioning all funds to the Government of Pakistan on cooperation against the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations, with a waiver, and funding based on achieving benchmarks."
On 7 September 2012, the Obama administration blacklisted the group as a foreign terrorist organization. The decision was mandated by Congress and was a source of debate within the administration.
US officials confirmed that they held preliminary talks during the summer of 2011 with representatives of the militant network at the request of the ISI. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US had reached out to the Haqqanis to gauge their willingness to engage in a peace process and that "Pakistani government officials helped to facilitate such a meeting." The New York Times reported that talks secretly began in late August 2011 in the United Arab Emirates between a midlevel American diplomat and Ibrahim Haqqani, Jalalludin's brother. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of the ISI, brokered the discussion, but little resulted from the meeting.
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