Anas Haqqani, the youngest and one of the many sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, praised his father’s commitment to fighting the Soviet Union and the United States over the past four decades. While the Taliban has previously claimed Anas had no links to the group, the Afghan government has described him as a propagandist and ambassador for the Taliban.
The Taliban released Anas’ statement, titled “My Legendary Father,” on its official website, Voice of Jihad on Sept. 3 [PDF]. Jalaluddin Haqqani was one of the most influential and respected Taliban leaders before his death in 2018. The Taliban routinely release statements that praise Jalaluddin’s commitment to the jihad.
The fact that Anas allowed the Taliban to publish his statement at Voice of Jihad is a clear indication that he is more than just an innocent student, as the Taliban has claimed.
The lengthy letter includes Anas’ stories about his imprisonment and interaction with Afghan interrogators. He says he met his uncle, Haji Mali Khan, and Hafiz Rasheed while in prison.
Haji Mali Khan has been described by the U.S. military as “one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani Network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” who supported suicide attacks, had close ties to Al Qaeda, and served as an “emissary” to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Rasheed (also known as Qari Abdul Rasheed Omari) was captured along with Anas Haqqani in Oct. 2014 while traveling in the Persian Gulf. At the time of his capture, Rasheed served as the Taliban’s military commander for southeastern Afghanistan. Rasheed is the brother of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior Taliban official who was held at Guantanamo from late 2002 until May 2014, when he, along with four other Taliban commanders held in US custody, were exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as part of the Taliban 5.
Khan, Rasheed, and Anas were released from Afghan custody in Nov. 2019 in exchange for American University of Afghanistan professors Kevin King and Timothy Weeks. The two professors were kidnapped by the Haqqani Network in Kabul in Aug. 2016. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said that it had to “pay this bitter price” to secure the release of King and Weeks.
Anas also claims that an Afghan interrogator cowered in fear after learning Anas was a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani. Anas recounts a story that was purportedly told by his father, which claims that immediately after 9/11 and before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. officials attempted to coax Jalaluddin to abandon the Taliban and lead an Afghan government. Jalaluddin refused, saying he would not “sell his religion and people to lead the country.”
The Taliban tipped its hand about Anas and his importance to the group four years ago, when it threatened that “blood will be spilled” if Anas was executed. Anas’ paean to his father merely confirms that he holds an important position in the Taliban.
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