The United Nations Security Council has added two senior Haqqani Network leaders to its list of individuals who are associated with the Taliban. One of the Haqqani Network leaders was appointed by al Qaeda to lead operations in a southeastern province in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Jan Wazir and Fazl Rabi were added to the UN list on Jan. 6 for holding senior leadership positions in the Haqqani Network. The UN designation, under UNSC resolution 1988, freezes the assets of those on the list and and imposes a travel ban on them. The two Haqqani Network leaders were added by the US Treasury Department to its list of specially designated global terrorists in June 2011, but their designation was not widely publicized.
Ahmed Jan Wazir
According to the UN, Wazir is “a key commander” in the Haqqani Network. He “acts as a deputy, advisor, and spokesperson” for Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the network. Wazir has represented the Haqqani Network at the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s top leadership council. Additionally, he holds meetings for the Haqqani Network and has traveled to the Persian Gulf with other “senior Haqqani Network members.”
Wazir has been instrumental in helping the Haqqani Network expand its operations from its traditional base of power in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost into Ghazni. He “served as a conduit between the Haqqani Network and the Taliban in Ghazni,” the UN said. Ghazni is also a known hotbed of al Qaeda activity. [See LWJ report, ‘Foreign trainers’ active in southeastern Afghan province, for more information on al Qaeda’s presence in Ghazni.]
Wazir has the support of al Qaeda fighters operating in Ghanzi. In 2008, he was named by both Taliban and al Qaeda units as a commander in the province. In that role he “has provided other Taliban commanders in Ghazni Province with money and supplies, including weapons and communications equipment.”
Rabi is a key financial official for both the Taliban and the Haqqani Network who has also aided the terror group in executing suicide attacks in Afghanistan, according to the UN.
The UN said Rabi is “a member of the Taliban’s financial shura and has dispersed funds to Taliban commanders and officials.” He has traveled to the Persian Gulf several times to raise funds for Jalaluddin Haqqani, the network’s patriarch, and his son Siraj.
Additionally, Rabi “has coordinated the Haqqani Network’s relationship with other militant groups.”
Top Haqqani Network leaders designated as terrorists
Wazir and Rabi are the latest Haqqani Network leaders to have been added to the US’s list of designated terrorists. Eight top Haqqani Network leaders have been placed on the list since 2008: six of them, including Rabi and Wazir, were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the overall leader of the Haqqani Network as well as the leader of the Taliban’s Miramshah Regional Military Shura, was designated by the State 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 have told The Long War Journal that Siraj is a member of al Qaeda’s top council. In April 2010, Siraj said that cooperation between al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban “is at the highest limits.”
Nasiruddin Haqqani, one of Siraj’s brothers, was placed on the US’s terrorist list in July 2010. Nasiruddin is a key financier and “emissary” for the Haqqani Network, and is known to have 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.
Khalil al Rahman Haqqani, Siraj’s uncle, was added to the US’s list of terrorists in February 2011. Khalil is a key fundraiser, financier, and operational commander for the Haqqani Network, and has been crucial in aiding and supporting al Qaeda’s military, the Lashkar al Zil or Shadow Army.
Badruddin Haqqani, another one of Siraj’s brothers, was designated by the State Department on May 11, 2011. Badruddin sits on the Miramshah Shura, is an operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and provides support to al Qaeda and allied terror groups.
Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior lieutenant to Siraj and the Taliban’s shadow governor for Paktika province in Afghanistan, was added to the list of designated terrorists on Aug. 16, 2011. US military officials have told The Long War Journal that Sangeen is considered to be one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan and has organized multiple assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region. Sangeen is currently holding Bowe Bergdahl, the only US soldier who has been captured alive in the Afghan theater.
Haji Mali Khan, who has been described by the US military as “one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani Network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” was added on Nov. 1, 2011. Khan was captured by US special operations forces during a raid on Sept. 27 in the Musa Khel district in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is the father of Siraj, Nasiruddin, and Badruddin and also the brother of Khalil, has not been added to the US’s list of terrorists, despite his close links to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. In an interview with Al Somood, the Taliban’s official magazine, Jalaluddin admitted he served on the Taliban’s executive council, which is known as the Quetta Shura.
Background on the Haqqani Network
The Haqqani Network operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, but also has an extensive presence in Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, and Kunduz. In addition, the network has expanded its operations into the distant Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Faryab.
The terror group has close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and its relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has allowed the network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan, a tribal agency in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network has also extended its presence into the Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram.
In 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. In addition, the Haqqanis 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.
The terror group collaborated with elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service in at least one of these attacks. In the past, 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.]
Last summer and fall, the US and the Afghan government linked the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s intelligence service to the June 2010 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011 and the attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters in September. Shortly after the attack, Admiral Michael Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Haqqani Network of being one of several “[e]xtremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan.”
The US military has been hunting top Haqqani Network commanders in special operations raids in the Afghan east, while the CIA has targeted the network with a series of unmanned Predator airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. Both Siraj and Sangeen have been the targets of past strikes. Mohammed Haqqani, a mid-level Haqqani Network military commander and a brother of Siraj, was killed in a Predator airstrike in February 2010.
In October 2011, the Predators were successful in killing Jan Baz Zadran, who was considered to be the Haqqani Network’s third in command, during an Oct. 13 airstrike in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan. Jan Baz was a powerful leader in the Haqqani Network. He was believed to be the top aide to the network’s operational commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Jan Baz served as the Haqqani Network’s logistical and financial coordinator, and also acquired weapons and ammunition for the network. He is thought to be the most senior Haqqani Network leader killed or captured since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
While the US is targeting the Haqqani Network in military operations and with financial sanctions, it also seeks to negotiate with the terror group to help end the insurgency in Afghanistan. The US is pursuing a policy of “fight, talk, build” with the Haqqanis and other Taliban groups. US officials are said to have met with Ibrahim Haqqani in August 2011 as he was visiting the United Arab Emirates, in an attempt to gauge the Haqqani Network’s willingness to negotiate. Siraj Haqqani has publicly said the group will not independently negotiate with the US and would only do so under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.