In recent years, the Haqqani Network has extended its reach in Afghanistan and Pakistan and consolidated its links with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terror groups, as well as with the Pakistani military and intelligence service. This summer RC-East Commander Major General Daniel Allyn said the Haqqani Network was “enemy number one” for US forces in Afghanistan. In October, outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen described the group as “a strategic arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Agency. And while the US has increasingly pressed Pakistan to take action against the group, which is headquartered in North Waziristan, Pakistan has steadfastly refused to do so.
As the Haqqani Network’s power has grown, so too it has its visibility. A number of its leaders have been designated as global terrorists by the US. Although the group has largely refrained from appearing in the media, more information about it has begun to surface. And while few images are known of Siraj Haqqani, the group’s operational commander, he and his representatives have contacted the media on various occasions, most recently to deny involvement in the killing of Afghan peace council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani.
At The Long War Journal, we noted earlier this week that the Haqqani Network has recently not only published 10,000 copies of an extensive training manual, but also released a videotape that commemorates the network’s June 28 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and shows Haqqani Network recruits in training.
A closer look at the video, which was provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, led us to several observations. At about 27:51 in the tape, there is a scene of six men sitting side by side against a mountain backdrop; one of the men appears to be the leader, and bears a strong similarity to images of Jalalludin Haqqani. [In an image captured from the video, shown at top, the man in question is third from right.] It is also possible that the leader shown here is not Jalalludin but perhaps one of his brothers, Ibrahim or Khalil. Or it could be another Haqqani leader as yet unidentified [see below to compare known image of Jalalludin Haqqani with that of leader in group photo above].
The younger man appearing to the right of the Jalalludin-like figure looks somewhat like Siraj Haqqani, though he appears slightly younger than Siraj’s approximate 35 years of age. [See above to compare the image from the group scene at top with one of the few known photos of Siraj Haqqani.] The group scene could also be a clip from an older film, however.
In 2004, journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, one of the few reporters to have interviewed Siraj in person, provided this description of Siraj and his father Jalalludin, in an article in the Asia Times: “Jalaluddin Haqqani is a thin man of small stature, and so is his soft-spoken son Siraj, who met this correspondent in an unidentified place on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to discuss the undercurrents of the present Taliban resistance movement.” Shahzad’s description seems somewhat consistent with the image of the two men in the central photo above.
Extensive family linkages remain a defining characteristic of the Haqqani Network. The recent video sheds a little more light on this group and its leadership, and in the process raises questions as to the identities of those shown.
For further reference as to familial relationships within the Haqqani Network, see Jeffrey Dressler’s updated Haqqani Family tree, published at The Institute for the Study of War and reprinted below:
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