Coalition special operations forces killed a senior Taliban commander who was involved in a suicide assault on a hotel in Kabul just two days ago.
Ismail Jan, the Haqqani Network commander, was killed yesterday in “a precision airstrike” in the Gardez district in the eastern province of Paktia. The special operations forces targeted Jan “after receiving several intelligence reports from Afghan government officials, Afghan citizens, and disenfranchised insurgents,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release that announced Jan’s death.
ISAF described Jan as a deputy of Haji Mali Khan, “the senior Haqqani commander inside Afghanistan.” He also commanded fighters in the Khost-Gardez Pass, a strategic area that links the provinces of Khost and Paktia. Jan “moved into Afghanistan from Pakistan in late 2010,” ISAF stated. “During this time he led approximately 25 to 35 fighters in conducting attacks against Afghan and Coalition security forces.”
Jan provided “material support” for the June 28 suicide assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that killed 12 people. The heavily armed suicide assault team penetrated security at the hotel and went room to room in an attempt to kill foreigners. ISAF helicopter teams were called in to kill members of the team who were sniping from the rooftop.
ISAF said that the Intercontinental attack was carried out “in conjunction with Taliban operatives,” confirming a report by The Long War Journal that the attack was indeed carried out by the Kabul Attack Network.
The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. It pools the resources of these groups to conduct attacks in and around the Afghan capital. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network.
Background on the Haqqani Network
The Haqqani Network operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, and also has an extensive presence in Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, and Kunduz.
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 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. 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.]
Four of the Haqqani Network’s top leaders have been added to the US’ list of specially designated global terrorists over the past several years. Siraj Haqqani, who also is a member of al Qaeda’s executive council, was added in March 2008. Nasiruddin Haqqani, a key financier and “emissary” for the Haqqani Network, was placed on the US’ terrorist list in July 2010. Khalil al Rahman Haqqani, a key fundraiser, financier, and operational commander for the Haqqani Network who also aids al Qaeda, was added to the US’ list of terrorists in February 2011. Badruddin Haqqani, an operational commander who also aids al Qaeda, was designated as a terrorist on May, 11, 2011.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, the father of Siraj, Nasiruddin, and Badruddin, and the brother of Khalil, has not been added to the US’ 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.
Over the past several months, ISAF has heavily targeted the Haqqani Network with special operations raids. ISAF claims it has killed or captured more than 80 mid-level Haqqani Network commanders since the beginning of the year.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.