The Afghan Taliban derided the US’s announcement that it would add the Haqqani Network to the list of terrorist entities and claimed the designation was an attempt to divide the group.
The Taliban released the statement yesterday on its propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. The statement was signed by “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the official name of the Afghan Taliban.
In the statement, the Taliban claimed that there is “no separate entity or network in Afghanistan by the name of Haqqani,” and that its overall leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is a member of the Quetta Shura, the group’s top leadership council.
“The honorable Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani is a member of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and is a close, loyal and trusted associate of the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen [leader of the faithful, Mullah Omar] and those Mujahideen entrusted under the command of his sons are in fact the heroic Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate who like other Mujahideen strictly obey the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen and wage Jihad against the invaders throughout the country,” the Taliban statement said.
The Taliban also claimed that the Haqqani Network was created by the US as part of “its satanic plot” to divide the group.
“By employing its satanic plot, America is trying to create and black list a separate entity in the organized and unified rank of Islamic Emirate…,” the statement continued.
The Taliban said the addition of the Haqqani Network to the list of terrorist organizations would be “ineffective” as “the Islamic Emirate does not have any trade agreements with any American companies or individuals and neither does it have monetary funds there which could be frozen.” Calling past designations of individuals also “ineffective,” the Taliban said the addition of the Haqqani Network to the terror list “is indicative of your [the US’s] complete defeat and dismay.”
In the past, the Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders, including Jalaluddin and his son Sirajuddin, have denied the existence of the Haqqani Network. In a 2008 interview with Al Somood, the Taliban’s official magazine, Jalaluddin outlined his role in the Taliban and said he was a member of the Quetta Shura. He also denied that his followers constituted a separate entity from the Taliban.
“I myself am a member of the High Council of the Islamic Emirate,” Jalaluddin said in 2008. “I also bear on my shoulders responsibility for Jihad in the provinces of Khost and Paktika. The biased claims of the international media agencies are unfounded in truth. Since we swore allegiance to Amir ul-Mumineen Mullah Mohamed Omar Mujahid, we have been to his day steadfast in that allegiance and we are true to (the Emirate’s) principles and decisions.”
The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban faction that operates in eastern, central, and northern Afghanistan, and is based in North Waziristan in Pakistan. The terror group has close links with al Qaeda, and is supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, leads the Miramshah Shura, one of four major Taliban regional councils.
Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders, including Sirajuddin, have been placed on the US list of terrorists; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda. Jalaluddin has not been added to the list.
For more information on the Haqqani Network, see LWJ report, US adds Haqqani Network to list of terror groups.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.