Pakistan detains top Haqqani Network leader


naisruddin_i_crop.jpg

Click to view slide show of the Haqqani Network. Pictured is Nasiruddin Haqqani.

Pakistani security forces have detained a top commander of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network as he was returning from Saudi Arabia to the network's headquarters.

Nasiruddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin, the patriarch of the Haqqani Network, was detained along with a Haqqani Network leader known as Mullah Muhammad Jan and three others, according to Newsweek. Nasiruddin was captured as he was traveling by car from Peshawar to Miramshah in North Waziristan, the headquarters of the Haqqani Network.

"Nasiruddin and his four traveling companions were arrested just as they were returning from the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, a trip that also had included substantial fundraising activities," Afghan Taliban sources told Newsweek.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directory has reportedly moved Nasiruddin and the four other Haqqani Network members to a safe house.

Newsweek reported that "it is unlikely that US intelligence will get access to Nasiruddin, largely because he could reveal just how closely the Haqqanis are linked to the ISI and other Pakistan intelligence agencies."

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal agreed, and stated that any access given to Nasiruddin would be closely monitored and scripted.

"By the time we get access to him, if that even happens, he'll be well prepped by the ISI," one intelligence official said. "The Haqqanis are as important to the ISI as the Lashkar-e-Taiba. I don't expect we'll get any meaningful intel from him."

Another intelligence official said Nasiruddin's detention is designed to deflect US demands that the Pakistani military take on the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.

"This is a show capture; you can be sure Nasiruddin isn't languishing in a prison," another intelligence official said. "With Nasiruddin's capture, the Pakistanis can tell us their so-called offensive in North Waziristan is having an impact."

Top Pakistani military officers have claimed that the military is waging a stealth campaign in North Waziristan, using "surgical" strikes. The Pakistani military claims there are 40,000 troops in North Waziristan conducting operations. But there is no evidence to support these claims, and the US has been forced to launch Predator and Reaper strikes in North Waziristan to disrupt the Taliban and al Qaeda's operations.

Background on Nasiruddin Haqqani

The Haqqani Network has extensive links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and its relationship with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency has allowed the network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan. The Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. They have established multiple training camps and safe houses used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives, as well as by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy. American intelligence agencies confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISI's direct involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing. [See LWJ report Pakistan's Jihad and Threat Matrix report Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban for additional information on the ISI's complicity in attacks in Afghanistan and the region.]

Nasiruddin is a key financier and "emissary" for the Haqqani Network. He is one of several brothers of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the overall operational leader of the Haqqani Network as well as the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban's four regional commands. Siraj was designated by the Treasury Department as a terrorist in March 2008; and in March 2009, the State Department put out a bounty of $5 million for information leading to his capture. US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that Siraj is a member of al Qaeda's top council.

The US Treasury Department added Nasiruddin to its list of specially designated global terrorists in July 2010. According to the Treasury, he traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

"As of mid-2007, [Nasiruddin] Haqqani reportedly received funding from ­donations from the Gulf region, drug trafficking, and payments from al Qaeda," Treasury stated. "In 2004, he traveled to Saudi Arabia with a Taliban associate to raise funds for the Taliban."

Nasiruddin is based out of Miramshah in the tribal agency of North Waziristan in Pakistan. He is known to speak Arabic and is also a close aide to his father.



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READER COMMENTS: "Pakistan detains top Haqqani Network leader"

Posted by Andrew R. at December 24, 2010 12:04 PM ET:

Okay, since the Pakistani government is probably going to release him because, hey, it's Pakistan, I was wondering if folks will at least be able to track him once he's been let out of jail so that we can put a missile in his living room once he's back in Waziristan.

Posted by Charu at December 24, 2010 1:32 PM ET:

The Pakistanis operate under the dictum that it is hugely beneficial to fool some Americans all the time and lots of Americans some of the time. And their military generals are laughing all the way to their London villas and Swiss banks.

Posted by Bilal Khan at December 24, 2010 1:44 PM ET:

Maybe the americans can give them another 20 billion dollars, or a similar silly amount; and give the Pakistanis weapons worth a few billions? that may be the only option if Obama has it his way. Maybe even come out with a new plan of collecting these monies from India by raising visa fees a bit more??

Posted by Bill S at December 24, 2010 1:49 PM ET:

If the access given to US intelligence officials is to be closely monitored and scripted then the meet ought to be passed by completely. A covert individual employed to place a simple tracking micro-chip in him can be done using a special purpose rifle. A decision can then be made at the convenience of the US gov't. Can the USA NOT afford this? Do we NOT have a human trustworthy nor capable? Or ... do we simply lack desire? Since my retirement I'm learning my 20 year military career and loyalty has been sorely mis-placed, my money is on the last point.

Posted by Charu at December 24, 2010 1:56 PM ET:

Christopher Hitchins on the mafia state of Af-Pak; true of both the Pashtuns and the Punjabis.

http://www.slate.com/id/2278615?wpisrc=xs_wp_0001

Posted by kp at December 24, 2010 2:55 PM ET:

So the Saudi's wouldn't detain him on the Hajj? They didn't know he was there? Was he traveling with false documents? Or they didn't detect him at immigration? Or didn't want to know (can't pick up a fellow Muslim on the Hajj; bad form and all that)? And with the fund-raising clearly he wasn't there for just walking around the Ka'aba.

Posted by Notsurprised at December 24, 2010 3:48 PM ET:

I personally have no reason to believe that ISAF hasnt been and was currently tracking these guys . I have to believe that these More important players are not freely travelling state to state without being noticed. Even with help from particular channels as the ISI . Someway or another, somebody either felt paranoid, or caught wind of a particular vehicle in the crosshairs of a Reaper and stepped in QUICKLY. Now I maybe wrong but the US Predator program doesnt have authority to shoot at will does it? Even in the NWFP? So is it possible when this particular vehicles video feed was forwarded to Pakistans side of the dismiss/allow ( for the lack of operational kn owledge ) is there a chance they stepped in to basically save their allies from a Hellfire or 3? My main point is how are these guys travelling state to state so easily? I could understand crossing a border, but boarding flights , probably into large airports ? They had to have been being tracked. ISI scooped them up just as they were heading into dangerous terrority, I would presume.Too bad we couldnt capture these guys.Just seems to me that there was a real possibility that we were very close

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at December 24, 2010 4:22 PM ET:

Wow if you really believe this i got a bridge i want to sell you. Damn i wish we could snatch this maggot. Where is the loot? LOL!!! Man, great con their pulling here. I hope s/one is on this guy like white on rice.

Posted by blert at December 24, 2010 4:25 PM ET:

He's in protected custody.

ISI realizes that at this time of the year four fanatics heading INTO North Waziristan are destined to meet 'the hand of allah.'

After he pays off his protectors with Golden Chain funding...

He will be permitted to roam free.

ISI wants their assets to be financially dependent upon the ISI whenever possible.

Posted by Daniel at December 24, 2010 5:41 PM ET:

My guess is Pakistan only "arrested" him because they thought we were going to blow his car to hell before it reached Miramshaw.

Posted by cessch at December 25, 2010 9:08 AM ET:

since we are largely freed up on iraq i was wondering if we dont have the forces necessary to take on pakistan. we certaintly have acquired the urban operations experience.

enuf of coddling pakistan together with india i am sure we can finish off the militants who make life for all muslims very difficult

Posted by John Keyne at December 25, 2010 11:19 AM ET:

I bet he will be released soon.

Is there a way we can buy out this guy from the Pakistanis or trade him for some F16s?

His interrogation will help us find his brothers Siraj and Osama bin Laden.

Posted by Villiger at December 25, 2010 12:06 PM ET:

cessch agree with your sentiments.

Its inevitable that the US will have to take on Pak in some way or the other. If it were with India it would squeeze out not just every morsel of meat in that sandwich but also every drop of mayo and every shred of lettuce. That is the answer to a belligerent, untamed PakMil. Afghanistan would unravel almost naturally after the surrender of the Pak army.

Look out for Obama's visit to pak in 2011--date unannounced i think and dependent on next 6 months developments. I imagine he'll be delivering some tough, very tough, msgs personally.

If India's not on board, this may wait till the Prez's second term? Speculating...

Posted by kp at December 25, 2010 1:21 PM ET:

@cessech: "since we are largely freed up on iraq i was wondering if we dont have the forces necessary to take on pakistan. we certaintly have acquired the urban operations experience."

This seems to be a comment sentiment so one should check out the geography.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq

169,234 sq mi (50th largest country)

31.2 million people


About the same size and population as California.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan

307,374 sq mi (36th largest country in the world)

170.6 million people


That's a bit more than half the population of the USA in a place the size of roughly CA + TX


Twice as big with worse terrain and five and half times the population. How big an army do you think we'll need for that? The original (good in hindsight) Shinseki estimate for Iraq was 450,000. Maybe 1 million? The current Army is 0.5 million active and 0.5 million reserve worldwide. Perhaps 2 million would be needed? The issue isn't the Pak Army but like Iraq what happens afterwards.

I don't think so even if they weren't a nominal ally and a nuclear weapons state we could invade (and occupy)

If you every see the US go into Pakistan it will be in the FATA (and possibly other areas) for raids (perhaps brigade sized at most?). Not to invade and long term hold.

Posted by jp at December 26, 2010 12:30 PM ET:

It would be great to sweat this guy for some intel !OBL cribs etc

Posted by villiger at December 26, 2010 10:58 PM ET:

"We must accept the fact that, as a people, we had also contributed to the bifurcation of our own country. It was not a Niazi, or a Yahya, even a Mujib, or a Bhutto, or their key assistants, who alone were the cause of our break-up, but a corrupted system and a flawed social order that our own apathy had allowed to remain in place for years. At the most critical moment in our history we failed to check the limitless ambitions of individuals with dubious antecedents and to thwart their selfish and irresponsible behaviour. It was our collective ‘conduct’ that had provided the enemy an opportunity to dismember us."

Sounds familiar?

The quote is from a book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier’s Narrative Pakistani Major General Hakeem Arshad Qureshi a veteran of that conflict.

Just substitute the above names with Kayani, Musharraf, Bhutto-Zardari. Sharif.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1971
Btw facts of that war: 160,000 sq km, 80 million people (admittedly largely not hostile to India), 13 days and 90,000+ lily-livered Pak POWs. Retaliation by Pak on India's western border: zilch, zero. In fact India restrained itself to march into Islamabad, Rawalpindi ,Lahore and so on.

Back to the present, a US invasion doesn't mean taking the whole country. Just the problematic bits in the wild west and liberating Baluchistan etc. I am not laying out a whole strategy here. Only suggesting that an Afpak war is not only feasible but in the long-term likely more viable than an Afghan war with artificial border restraints.

Resource-wise too this may well prove faster and cheaper and therefore more effective.

Posted by madashell59 at December 28, 2010 1:20 PM ET:

notsurprised: I think you could not be more on spot. 1) If it was not true then why would they not want to provide him to coalition intelligence? Unless they did have something to hide.
2) Maybe the coalition intelligence leaked to specific individuals that they had him in their sites to see if it gets back to the Pak leadership. Kind of like injecting a contrasting material into the body during a CT Scan to see how the network of blood vessels work. More the coalition forces know the better off they will be when and if the coalition forces do go to war with Pakistan/Iran.

One of the things the coalition forces learned in Iraq is it is difficult to completely dismantle a military and rebuild it (necessary in Iraq). But what if you know where the corruption is before hand the rebuilding will hopefully be faster.