Today the US Treasury Department added a Taliban financier and a Haqqani Network “communications official” to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
Abdul Baqi Bari, the Taliban leader, has funneled money to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, and has accepted funds from Osama bin Laden. Bakht Gul, the Haqqani Network operative, serves as a top aide to Badruddin Haqqani, and has helped “foreign fighters” enter Afghanistan.
Abdul Baqi Bari
Treasury said that Bari “has served as a Taliban money launderer and financial manager since at least 2001.” He has used his businesses inside Afghanistan and in Pakistan to fund al Qaeda and Taliban operations, and has worked directly with both Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. Bari has used banks, money exchanges, and hawalas to mask the movement of large sums of cash.
Bari is known to have received, handled, and distributed millions of dollars in cash. “In the twilight of the Taliban government,” Bari was one of several individuals to have received a portion of more than $168 million from Afghanistan’s national bank. “Bari was at the top of the list, according to the chief of Interpol in Afghanistan,” Treasury stated. Also in 2002, Bari disbursed “$2.6 million in Taliban money” to an unnamed associate “to deposit in separate bank accounts.”
Bari has interacted with al Qaeda in at least two instances. In 2001, Mullah Omar instructed Bari “to pay al Qaeda and Taliban supporters.”
In 2002, Osama bin Laden “provided Bari and an associate $500,000 to purchase a
factory” for an unnamed company, “and Taliban personnel subsequently established satellite offices throughout Afghanistan,” apparently using the company as cover for activities.
Additionally, “Bari used money exchange businesses in Pakistan to funnel financial support to the Taliban and al Qaeda and, in one instance, conducted a $400,000 hawala transfer for Mullah Omar,” Treasury stated.
In addition to serving as a top financial official for the Taliban and al Qaeda, Bari facilitated the purchase of weapons for the Taliban.
In 2006, the Pakistani government is reported to have frozen 31 bank accounts belonging to Bari, his brother Abdul Baqi, and their sons, as well as 15 accounts belonging to two companies owned by Bari, his family members, and Mullah Omar. Dawn identified one of the businesses as Fazal Karim Maidanwal Limited; it
Treasury described Gul as “a key Haqqani Network communications official since at least 2009” who “works directly for senior Haqqani Network leader Badruddin Haqqani” and serves as his “gatekeeper.” Treasury’s description of Gul indicates he serves as Badruddin’s chief of staff.
“Gul’s responsibilities include relaying reports from commanders in Afghanistan to senior Haqqani Network officials, Taliban media officials, and legitimate media outlets in Afghanistan,” the designation said. He also “relayed operational orders from Badruddin Haqqani to fighters in Afghanistan.” Additionally he aids in “the movement of Haqqani insurgents, foreign fighters, and weapons,” and has handed out funds to commanders traveling to Afghanistan.
Badruddin Haqqani is one of the Haqqani Network’s top commanders, and was designated by the US as a terrorist in May 2011 for supporting operations in Afghanistan and aiding al Qaeda.
Top Haqqani Network leaders designated as terrorists
Gul is the latest Haqqani Network leader to have been added to the US’s list of designated terrorists. Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders have been placed on the list; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda.
Despite the terror group’s close ties to al Qaeda and its actions in Afghanistan, the US has not added the Haqqani Network to the list of Specially Designation Global Terrorist Entities. Members of Congress have urged the Obama administration to add the Haqqani Network as a terrorist entity.
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.
Ahmed Jan Wazir and Fazl Rabi were added to the list of designated terrorists in June 2011. Wazir serves as a deputy, advisor, and spokesman for Siraj, has represented the Haqqani Network at the Quetta Shura, and has close ties to al Qaeda’s network in Ghazni. 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 and has traveled to the Gulf countries to raise money for Jalaluddin and Siraj.
Mullah Sangeen Zadran, who serves as a senior lieutenant to Siraj and as 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. Sangeen has organized numerous assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region, and 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 that are used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives and 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, a powerful leader in the Haqqani Network, 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. The talks have failed. 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.