The Haqqani Network’s third in command was killed in a US Predator airstrike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today, US officials said.
Jan Baz Zadran was killed in the town of Miramshah, US officials told The Associated Press. Unmanned US Predators conducted an airstrike in the Miramshah area today, and according to previous news reports, a Haqqani “coordinator” identified as “Jamil” was said to be one of three people killed in the strike. A US official told The Long War Journal that Jan Baz and Jamil are the same person.
The Haqqani Network has not confirmed reports that Jan Baz was among those killed in today’s Predator strike in North Waziristan.
US officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Jan Baz was high on their “target list” due to his role in the top tier of the Haqqani Network’s leadership circle. The officials described him as the Haqqani Network’s third in command. He is the senior-most Haqqani Network leader killed or captured in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Jan Baz was a powerful leader in the Haqqani Network. He was considered to be the top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network. Jan Baz served as the Haqqani Network’s logistical and financial coordinator, and also acquired weapons and ammunition for the network.
He is one of the most wanted Taliban commanders operating in the Afghan theater. Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have been hunting Jan Baz for years. His brother was captured during a May 13 raid in the Zadran district in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. At the time of his capture, the brother was described by the International Security Assistance Force as “a senior adviser for the insurgent network” who was “responsible for logistics and communications for a major portion of Haqqani operations” in Khost province. The brother “was intimately involved with the Haqqani command structure and tactical operations,” ISAF stated. He also “recruited young men and suicide bombers for the Haqqani Network.”
Jan Baz is the third senior Haqqani Network leader killed or captured along the Afghan-Pakistan border in three weeks. On Sept. 27, special operations forces captured Haji Mali Khan, the Haqqani Network’s operational commander for Afghanistan, during a raid in Paktia province. ISAF described Khan as “one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani Network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan.” He managed bases used by Haqqani and foreign fighters in eastern Afghanistan, and served as a key link to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Khan is Sirajuddin Haqqani’s maternal uncle, and is an Arab from the Middle East.
And on Oct. 4, US forces killed Dilawar, “a principal subordinate to Haji Mali Khan,” during an airstrike in the district of Musa Khel in Khost, ISAF stated. Dilawar “actively coordinated numerous attacks against Afghan forces and facilitated the movement of weapons” along the Afghan-Pakistan border. He also “facilitated the movement of foreign fighters and was associated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” The Haqqani Network is known to work closely with both al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The Haqqani Network has become a focus of ISAF operations in Afghanistan and CIA operations in Pakistan as the terror group remains entrenched in the Afghan east and continues to direct high-profile attacks in Kabul. In August, Major General Daniel Allyn, Commanding General of Regional Commander East, told The Long War Journal that the Haqqani Network is “enemy number one.”
In September, the US ramped up the pressure on Pakistan, the Haqqani Network’s benefactor, after accusing the terror group of attacking the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters in a daylong assault in Kabul. In his recent testimony to Congress, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of directly supporting Haqqani Network attacks inside Afghanistan. Mullen, who was one of Pakistan’s biggest supporters in Washington, described the Haqqani Network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.