The US Treasury Department has added three top Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders to the list of designated terrorists for their support of terror groups in Afghanistan.
Nasiruddin Haqqani, Gul Agha Ishakzai, and Amir Abdullah were designated today as terrorists under Executive Order 13224 for “supporting acts of terrorism and for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban or the Haqqani Network.” The designation allows the US to freeze their assets, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.
Nasiruddin is a key financier and “emissary” for the Haqqani Network, and Gul Agha is the Taliban’s top financial officer. The third man, Abdullah, served as the treasurer for Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who worked as the deputy for Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, before being detained by Pakistani security forces earlier this year.
Nasiruddin is one of several brothers of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the overall 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.
According to the Treasury, Nasiruddin has 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, Jalaluddin, the patriarch of the Haqqani family.
The second person designated in today’s order, Gul Agha Ishakzai, “is the head of the Taliban’s financial commission and is part of a recently-created Taliban council that coordinates the collection of zakat [an Islamic tax] from Baluchistan Province, Pakistan,” Treasury stated. As the Taliban’s chief financial officer, Gul Agha “has collected money for suicide attacks in Kandahar, Afghanistan and has been involved in the disbursement of funds for Taliban fighters and their families.”
Gul Agha is also a close adviser and confidant of Mullah Omar, the head of the Afghan Taliban. He is a childhood friend of Omar, and once served as his “personal financial secretary.” In addition, Gul Agha has facilitated Taliban support from Iran, according to the Treasury. In December 2005, Gul Agha “facilitated the movement of people and goods to Taliban training camps in Iran.”
The Taliban are known to receive weapons, sanctuary, and other support from Iran. During a recent airstrike in Farah province, the US military killed Mullah Akhtar, a Taliban commander with close links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Other Taliban commanders have been directly linked to Iran as well.
The third designee mentioned in today’s order, Amir Abdullah, served as Mullah Baradar’s personal treasurer and as a senior Taliban fundraiser, and once served as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kandahar province. “Abdullah has traveled to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fundraise and collect money for the Taliban,” Treasury stated.
Abdullah also supports the Quetta Shura’s operations in Karachi and helped Taliban commanders flee to safe havens in Pakistan. “In 2001, Abdullah helped many senior Taliban members who fled Afghanistan settle in Pakistan,” Treasury reported. “Abdullah also facilitates communications for Taliban leadership and coordinates high-level meetings at the guesthouse of his Karachi residence.”
The Taliban are known to have moved elements of their command to Karachi to avoid the potential of the US targeting Quetta in Predator airstrikes. Mullah Omar is thought to be in a safehouse in Karachi, under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.
Treasury Targets Taliban and Haqqani Network Leadership: Treasury Designates Three Financiers Operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, US Treasury Department press release
The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders, The Long War Journal
US places bounty on senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, The Long War Journal
The Haqqani Network, The Long War Journal
Taliban confirm Mullah Baradar captured, The Long War Journal
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.