Haqqani Network said to name successor to Mullah Sangeen


Mullah Sangeen Zadran, from a Haqqani Network video that was released last year and urged Turks and Kurds to join the jihad in Afghanistan. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Haqqani Network, an al Qaeda allied Taliban subgroup that operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, is said to have named Bilal Zadran to succeed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a top commander who is thought to have been killed in a US drone strike in early September.

Bilal is said to have been named to succeed Mullah Sangeen as Sirajuddin Haqqani’s deputy during a “high level meeting of [the] Haqqani Network,” The Frontier Post reported. Mullah Sangeen, who was the Taliban’s shadow governor of Paktika and is on the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda, is thought to have been killed in a US drone strike on Sept. 5 in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Neither the Haqqani Network nor al Qaeda has released official statements confirming or denying the reports of their deaths. Al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network often do not announce the deaths of military commanders, and often delay the release of martyrdom statements by months or years. For instance, the Taliban confirmed the death of Badruddin Haqqani, a top Haqqani Network commander, one year after he was reported to have been killed in a drone strike.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal could not confirm Mullah Sangeen’s death, but they believe the reports of his death are “credible.” Tribal elders in North Waziristan claimed he was buried just one day after the drone strike that is said to have killed him.

“We believe that we got him,” one intelligence official said. “At some point, we expect he will be eulogized, given his prominence within the Haqqani Network and the Taliban, and due to his close relationship to al Qaeda.”

Bilal Zadran was appointed to succeed Mullah Sangeen “in a meeting duly attended by top commanders of Haqqani Network,” and chaired by Siraj, The Frontier Post reported.

The Pakistani newspaper said that Bilal, 35 years old and a nephew of Mullah Sangeen, “is said to have completed his master degree from Makkah [Mecca in Saudi Arabia] and can speak English fluently.” Top Haqqani Network leaders are known to travel to Saudi Arabia to fundraise for both the network and al Qaeda.

He served as a military commander in Khost province as well as a top spokesman for Mullah Omar before he was arrested in 2007, according to Allvoices. He is said to have been among the more than 400 hundred Taliban fighters and commanders who escaped from a prison in Kandahar City in Afghanistan during a complex, coordinated jailbreak in 2012.

According to The Frontier Post, Bilal is also said to be a “master of explosives” and a “hard core Jihadi commander.”

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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  • Bill Roggio says:

    Another “the TTP is splitting” story. Perhaps it is true, but then again, Hakeemullah and Waliur supposedly killed each other in 2009 and have been supposedly feuding ever since. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Carol Anne Grayson says:

    Yes my dear friends at the Frontier Post do all the hard work, take all the risks… Without them how much would people know… The Tribal Area journos are heroes in my book working in the most difficult conditions and very accurate if you know who to speak to!
    Once again of course the US couldn’t confirm who they have killed!

  • Mr T says:

    A high level meeting? Why can we never get intel on these high level meetings and wipe these scum off the earth all at the same time?
    My guess is that while the number of people knowing about the high level meeting will offer additional chances to leak it, we have to tell the Pakistanis and they alert the high level people not to go to the meeting because we know about it.

  • Nolan says:

    Is there any credence the story that another Haqqani son was killed in the strike that removed Mullah Sangeen? http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-202069-Crowning-the-warlord
    Obaiduddin Haqqani is rumored to have been injured/killed.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I would not be surprised if the ISI gave information to the CIA about this guy, which led to his death by the drone. It could be that Mullah Sangeen had some arguments with his ISI handlers, who got pissed off with him and decided to take revenge by informing the CIA about him. After all the Haqqani network are considered “Good Taliban” by the ISI, and if someone in the Haqqani network upsets any of the ISI handlers, then they’re in grave danger.


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