US adds Haqqani Network to list of terror groups

The US Department of State announced that the Haqqani Network, a terror group linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, has been added to the list of terror groups. The announcement was made today in a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Today, I have sent a report to Congress saying that the Haqqani Network meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO),” Clinton said in a statement released on the department’s website. “This action meets the requirements of the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-168). Based on that assessment, I notified Congress of my intent to designate the Haqqani Network as an FTO under the INA. I also intend to designate the organization as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224.”

Clinton said that in addition to the freezing of assets and prohibition of support for the Haqqani Network, the US is continuing its “robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks.”

The designation of the Haqqani Network as a terror group was taken “in the context of our overall strategy in Afghanistan, the five lines of effort that President Obama laid out when he was in Afghanistan in May: increasing the capacity of Afghan security forces to fight insurgents; transitioning to Afghan security lead; building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan; pursuing Afghan-led reconciliation; and putting together an international consensus to support peace and stability in the region.”

Clinton also said that the US “will continue to work with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to move these efforts forward and build a more peaceful and secure future.” Pakistan has refused to act against the Haqqani Network, however.

The designation occurred after the US Congress put pressure on State to designate the Haqqani Network. Obama administration officials had hoped to bring the Haqqani Network to the negotiating table along with the top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, but these efforts have not succeeded. The US was pursuing a policy of “fight, talk, build” with the Haqqanis and other Taliban groups. US officials are said to have met with Ibrahim Haqqani in August 2011 as he was visiting the United Arab Emirates, in an attempt to gauge the Haqqani Network’s willingness to negotiate. But Siraj Haqqani has publicly said the group will not independently negotiate with the US and would only do so under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Afghan Taliban.

Background on the Haqqani Network

The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban subgroup that operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, but also has an extensive presence in Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, and Kunduz. In addition, the network has expanded its operations into the distant Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Faryab.

The terror group has close links with al Qaeda, 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 Pakistani 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 that are used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives and 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 have 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.]

Last summer and fall, the US and the Afghan government linked the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s intelligence service to the June 28, 2011 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and the Sept. 13, 2011 attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters. Shortly after the September attack, Admiral Michael Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Haqqani Network of being one of several “[e]xtremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan.”

The US military has been hunting top Haqqani Network commanders in special operations raids in the Afghan east, while the CIA has targeted the network with a series of unmanned Predator airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. Both Siraj and Sangeen have been the targets of past strikes. Mohammed Haqqani, a mid-level Haqqani Network military commander and a brother of Siraj, was killed in a Predator airstrike in February 2010.

On Oct. 13, 2011, the Predators killed Jan Baz Zadran, who was considered to be the Haqqani Network’s third in command, in an airstrike in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan. As the top aide to operational commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jan Baz served as the Haqqani Network’s logistical and financial coordinator and also acquired weapons and ammunition for the network. He is thought to be the most senior Haqqani Network leader killed or captured since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Top Haqqani Network leaders designated as global terrorists:

Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders have been placed on the list; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda. They are listed below in the order in which they were designated.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the overall leader of the Haqqani Network as well as the leader of the Taliban’s Miramshah Regional Military Shura, was designated by the State 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 have told The Long War Journal that Siraj is a member of al Qaeda’s top council. In April 2010, Siraj said that cooperation between al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban “is at the highest limits.”

Nasiruddin Haqqani, one of Siraj’s brothers, was placed on the US’s terrorist list in July 2010. Nasiruddin is a key financier and “emissary” for the Haqqani Network, and is known to have 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.

Khalil al Rahman Haqqani, Siraj’s uncle, was added to the US’s list of terrorists in February 2011. Khalil is a key fundraiser, financier, and operational commander for the Haqqani Network, and has been crucial in aiding and supporting al Qaeda’s military, the Lashkar al Zil or Shadow Army.

Badruddin Haqqani, another one of Siraj’s brothers, was designated by the State Department on May 11, 2011. Badruddin sits on the Miramshah Shura, is an operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and provides support to al Qaeda and allied terror groups. Badruddin is thought to have been killed in a drone strike in August 2012 but the report has not been confirmed.

Fazl Rabi was added to the list of designated terrorists in June 2011. Rabi is a key financial official for both the Taliban and the Haqqani Network who has also aided the terror group in executing suicide attacks in Afghanistan and has traveled to the Gulf countries to raise money for Jalaluddin and Siraj.

Ahmed Jan Wazir was added to the list of designated terrorists in June 2011 along with Fazl Rabi. Wazir serves as a deputy, advisor, and spokesman for Siraj, has represented the Haqqani Network at the Quetta Shura, and has close ties to al Qaeda’s network in Ghazni.

Mullah Sangeen Zadran, who serves as a senior lieutenant to Siraj and as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Paktika province in Afghanistan, was added to the list of designated terrorists on Aug. 16, 2011. US military officials have told The Long War Journal that Sangeen is considered to be one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan. Sangeen has organized numerous assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region, and is currently holding Bowe Bergdahl, the only US soldier who has been captured alive in the Afghan theater. Sangeen has professed his support for al Qaeda and recently called on Turkish and Kurdish jihadists to join the fight in Afghanistan.

Haji Mali Khan, who has been described by the US military as “one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani Network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” was added on Nov. 1, 2011. Khan was captured by US special operations forces during a raid on Sept. 27, 2011 in the Musa Khel district in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost.

And Bakht Gul, an important Haqqani Network communications official who works directly for Badruddin as his chief of staff, was designated on May 17, 2012. Gul relayed operational orders from Badruddin Haqqani to fighters in Afghanistan, and “aids in “the movement of Haqqani insurgents, foreign fighters, and weapons,” and has handed out funds to commanders traveling to Afghanistan, State said.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is the father of Siraj, Nasiruddin, and Badruddin and also the brother of Khalil, has not been added to the US’s 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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Mick says:

    I am a little confused as to why it took so long for the Haqqani network to be added, and why they were not on the terror list until now. I would have naturally assumed they were already on the terror list. THey have been actively engaged in combat and war against U.S. military in Afghanistan. There are plenty of other smaller scale jihadist groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere that have been added to the terror list over the years. The Haqqani network is one of the main factions operating in Afghanistan. So again, I am baffled as to why they were not added to the terror list until now?! That means any person could have openly collected donations inside U.S. and openly and freely sent it to the Haqqani network, for the last 11 years, and they would have been innocent?!? This just doesn’t make any sense to me. Or maybe the terror list really doesn’t make a difference logistically, other than cementing the ordeal as “official”, and the U.S. gov never got around to it? i honestly don’t know. Maybe someone can explain.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Basically this is a public message to the Pakistani establishment, that any negotiations with the Haqqani’s are over and there won’t be any abandonment of drones over Pakistani territory.
    In reality things won’t change on the ground, but this would show to the Pakistanis that if things don’t improve, then American drones won’t go away !!

  • Jim says:

    Back in the day , prior to 911, when the Taliban were just the Taliban. Who were they. Were they Haqqanis’ or Mesud’s or who? Surely all these groups weren’t united under one banner. It seems that when the commoon enemy the US leaves that they will all be fighting each other again.

  • Charu says:

    This action is quite inconsequential at this point. Officially declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would have been a lot more meaningful, and it would have got the attention of its high-flying elite.

  • Mr T says:

    Fighting each other to see who wins the right to fight the US in New York City again.
    Their goal is a global caliphate, not an Afghan one. That means in every country.

  • David says:

    I’ve read in several places that there is a large debate going on in the administration, with the military wanting designation, and the State Department arguing against. The State Department is handling negotiations with Pakistan, and argues that you can get the same result (suppressing their fundraising, travel, etc.) by having Treasury designate them, and/or the UN. I assume the military disagrees, but I haven’t heard their reply. The State Dept. says it will screw up their negotiations, and I believe them.
    But the fact that Pakistanis are so wedded to the Haqqanis, even if they aren’t actually directing them to attack us, makes me doubt the value of any possible outcome of the negotiations. The Pakistanis, or at least a large, untouchable segment of the Pakistani establishment, really seems like they want to make war on us. And that will only get worse when we leave them to their own devices. We have to put them in the same box that Iran is in.

  • gb says:

    Mick, I was wondering the same thing. The local intelligence is pretty good, and these terror groups are always eager for credit when they take any action against ISAF, I would think the criteria to put these idiots on the terror list would be very easy to satisfy. I mean if all the stonings, beheadings, honor killings, and poisoned school girls weren’t enough that is.

  • James says:

    To Bill and others, you may want to review the following article:
    In pertinent part, here’s a quote from the article:
    Meanwhile, the Haqqani network will be officially branded a terrorist organization, according to the NYT’s Eric Schmitt today: “Many other senior officials, including several in the White House, expressed deep reservations that blacklisting the group could further damage badly frayed relations with Pakistan, undercut peace talks with the Taliban, and possibly jeopardize the fate of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier known to be held by the militants. But in the past few days, supporters of designating the group apparently eased most concerns or put forward contingencies to mitigate the risks and potential consequences.”
    The above reasoning shows why it took them so long to declare them a terrorist organization (which they should have done long ago).
    This just shows the state of ‘wishful thinking’ on the part of the current regime in power (in DC).

  • Larry says:

    I’m with Mick; what took so long for them to be added? Does the State Department not read The Long War Journal!!

    It seems every time I come to this site I read about some attack that the The Haqqani Network has carried out or a drone strike which has been carried out against them. On the flip side, I bet that any regular reader of this site and others like it could go out and ask 20 random people on the street what they know about the Haqqani Network and I would be surprised if 1 of them could tell you anything.

    That attack on FOB Salerno a couple of months ago with the truck bomb driving into the base, from what I understand, collapsed the roof of the (empty at the time ) dining hall. The reality is that the difference between that attack (which was widely ridiculed on this site) and the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing which killed 241 people may have been…what? 90 minutes?

    Birbal Dhar may have hit the nail on the head when he suggested that this was more a message to the Paki govt than anything. The situation on the ground won’t change over this.

    I still think the two most likely “spectaculars” that are likely to be successfully carried out against the US come from AQAP knocking a trans-Atlantic flight out of the sky and something similar to FOB Salerno attack. They seem to have come close on a couple of occasions. I also believe that AQAP would love to hit a plane before the November election.

  • JT says:

    Normally the phrase, “better late than never” applies. In this case, however, it is long overdue and lives have been lost because of the delay. This assumes, of course, that the State Department’s designation has some real consequences. From this point forward, I hope it does have real effect.

  • Jon Madden says:

    You nailed in on the head. This ultimately just puts pressure on the Pakistani gov. and will give us a nice reason to keep using drones since the Pak gov will most likely stand aside under pressure. Interesting note will be when HQN bad-ites start getting smoked, how soon do they run to ISI and the PAK gov for protection? Stay tuned…

  • Paul D says:

    Who are we fighting in Afghanistan Pakistan or the Taliban?

  • Eric says:

    The Obama administration wants to pursue a transistion to containment and sanctions against Pakistan, and this will follow announcement of Pakistan’s designation as a state sponsor of terror. Imossible to make a move this momentous prior to an election. Not even in the cards. Pakistan cannot survive an exchange of open hostilities with the US, and cannot avoid this course of action forcing their hand. Without things breaking out into hostilities, the US will impose economic sanctions on Pakistan to counterpunch the Pakistanis for their support of terror groups. Pursuit of containment and sanctions is the position the US must take accompanying the withdrawal of US forces in 2014. That makes 2013 the ideal year to compel the Pakistanis to renounce terrorism or share its fate. (Before all the hardware gets trucked out). The Haqqanis are but one chip the Pakis will need to cough up. Economic sanctions are the road to international condemnation Iran just went down. With the Pakis it will be different. They are not as resourceful and are not as fascist as the Iranian regime. Sanctions will wreck the Pakis in a hurry.
    The chance for India to buy into it will be left open, but as for now, India has not expressed a desire to impose economic sanctions against Pakistan along with the US, and the gathering front of western nations. India would have Pakistan,s lunch if they joined with the west.
    If the Pakistanis want to go out shooting, that’s fine with us. India is a bit less comfortable with that scenario. But hell or high water, play-time in the FATA will be over. Pakistan can fire the first shot, and give the US the pretext to clear out the tribal areas with US forces. Or they can cowboy up and renounce the terrorists and kick them out themselves. Huge bloody war or not, its their crackpot political and cultural environment that created this mess, and that is squarely where the price will fall.

  • Ghost Soldier says:

    Haqqani is more of a Pashtun-nationalist movement. It has no real international threat aside from its Pakistan-Afghanistan transnational efforts.
    The real threat to US interests remains in the international terrorist network. Groups in that sphere include LeT, TTP, IMU, and AQ.
    Haqqani can be weaned from the battlefield and open up a large opportunity to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan but the larger threat remains the international terrorist efforts of the aforementioned groups.

  • Medusa says:

    Ghost Soldier,
    Your entire assessment regarding the Haqqani Network is false.
    1. The Haqqani Network is not a “Pashtun-nationalist movement.” Their commanders and leaders have communicated as much in their own propaganda material, and Haqqani Network elements include scores of foreign fighters. Moreover, the Pakistani intelligence establishment would never accept a ‘Pashtun nationalist’ organization. One of their primary objectives in supporting Afghan insurgent groups is the suppression of Pashtunistan-ism, which the ISI views as threat to the integrity of the Pakistani state. A weak, decentralized Afghan government — one that cannot advance territorial claims, among other things — is thus viewed as an effective impediment to the Pashtunistan cause.
    2. Haqqani’s mafia is a clear and present threat to the national security of the United States. As Bill has exhaustively and meticulously documented in the Long War Journal, Haqqani leadership is allied and intertwined with multiple terror groups engaged in global jihad, including al Qaeda. Siraj Haqqani is half Arab and openly supports Arab terrorists. Also, the Haqqani organization maintains extensive business and financial networks in the Arab Gulf– networks which in many cases have directly funded al Qaeda activities. Any territory controlled by the Haqqani network will automatically become a haven for al Qaeda and associated movements.
    3. “Haqqani” (who in specific are you referring to here?) cannot “be weaned from the battlefield,” particularly when the Haqqani Network leadership believes they are winning and that time is on their side. There have been multiple efforts, stretching back a decade, to integrate the Haqqani family into the Afghan government, including a senior position offer to Jalaluddin. To date, they have rejected all direct and indirect reconciliation offers. This is in part a consequence of their increasingly radicalized ideology and freedom of movement in Pakistan proper. Contrary to popular opinion, the Haqqani mafia is not confined to the tribal areas.

  • Eric:
    Pakistan has been able to take advantage of America thus far mainly because India failed to adequately explain to the western powers what kind of a state Pakistan is.
    India is still poorly placed to help the West to deal with Pakistan, going forward.
    The US should actively get involved in getting the Indian leader Narendra Modi to power. He is not only an able leader; the fact of the matter is that the West needs India in order to deal not just with Pakistan, but the big Kahuna called Saudi Arabia, and help liberate South Asia from Islamist siege.
    The ruling Manmohan Singh regime in India has done much to facilitate the rise of political Islam in India. There is no reason not to think of this regime as an adversary that needs to go.
    Yes, Pakistan is a significant milepost but, the destination has to be Saudi Arabia, in order to permanently roll back the threat called radical Islam.

  • Andrew says:

    If the Haqqani’s harm Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl their leadership and underlings will be targeted for death until they are wiped out. They’ll be targeted as if they were all the coward bin Laden, who died in his hiding place.

  • Charu says:

    Agreed that the current Indian government is soft, overly cautious and undependable. Each time they get stabbed in the back by Pakistan they go back and extend a helpful hand only to get another knife in the back. The US is the only nation capable of spearheading the GWOT and providing the leadership, even if it is in the best interest of countries like India, Israel and the EU.


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