Siraj Haqqani, the son of famed mujahedeen leader Jalaluddin, the military commander of the Haqqani Network, and a member of al Qaeda’s military shura. Image from an interview with Al Jazeera.
The media is finally coming to recognize that the Haqqani Network is a powerful entity on both sides of the Durand Line. The Wall Street Journal has a good read on Siraj Haqqani. The report echoes something we’ve said numerous times at The Long War Journal: that the Haqqanis have deep ties to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that Siraj has risen to a level of prominence amongst the Taliban, to the point where he is often called in to settle disputes [see here for instance]. From The Wall Street Journal report on Siraj:
Mr. Haqqani has emerged as a powerbroker on both sides of the border. He has ties to almost every major faction in the confederation of groups operating under the Taliban umbrella. He has the strongest links to al Qaeda of any major Taliban faction, say U.S. officials and Pakistani experts. While pledging allegiance to Mullah Omar, he operates independently, choosing his own targets and only loosely coordinating with the Taliban’s supreme leadership.
Mr. Haqqani showed his sway when the Pakistani Taliban, an offshoot of Afghanistan’s Taliban, were on the verge of a bloody struggle following the death of its leader in a U.S. airstrike this summer. He called the major factions to North Waziristan to settle the dispute, telling them they must “follow the path of a great leader….You should save your bullets for your true enemies,” said a tribal elder who attended the meeting.
Within days, the Pakistan Taliban’s leadership was settled. The group has since repeatedly set off bombs in major cities and sent teams of gunmen to attack symbolic targets, including the headquarters of Pakistan’s military.
Incidentally, this account also disputes the notorious and erroneous ‘battle at the shura‘ claim made by the Pakistani government after the death of Baitullah Mehsud. The government insisted that Waliur Rehman Mehsud and Hakeemullah Mehsud had a shootout and killed each other in a dispute over the leadership of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Waliur and Hakeemullah were later seen on video after the latter was appointed the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
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