The Taliban released a video showing its deputy emir and interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and other top terrorist commanders finishing preparations for a large-scale suicide assault against U.S. forces based in eastern Afghanistan in 2010.
The video, which was circulated by Taliban supporters on social media, shows the whose who of the Haqqani Network, the powerful Taliban faction that is listed by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, seeing off the team of suicide bombers who attacked Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty on Nov. 12, 2010. FOB Fenty was located at the Jalalabad City airport in the Behsud district in Nangarhar.
The attack was ultimately repelled by a quick reaction force of U.S. and Afghan troops. Six attackers were killed and two suicide vests were recovered.
In the video, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who at the time was the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, was joined by his brother Badruddin Haqqani, Qari Zakir, the Taliban’s chief of suicide bombers, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a dangerous Haqqani leader, and Ghani Muhammad, an Al Qaeda-linked military commander based in Pakistan.
The terrorist leaders are first seen sitting in the room with the suicide team. The group then prays together. Afterward, Sirajuddin and his deputies embrace the members of the suicide team as they leave to execute the attack.
Sirajuddin has since risen to the top tier of the Taliban’s leadership. He currently serves as one of two deputy leaders of the Taliban, as well as the interior minister of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Badruddin was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists on May 11, 2011. He was a member of the Miramshah Shura, one of several Taliban regional military commands, and direct attacks in southeastern Afghanistan. “The foreign fighters supported by Badruddin include al Qaeda fighters,” Jason Blazakis, the chief of the State Department’s Terrorist Designations Unit, told The Long War Journal in May 2011.
Badruddin was also one of several handlers for the fighters involved in the June 28, 2011 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. He was recorded while he issued instructions to one of the fighters, and was heard laughing during the attack that killed 11 civilians and two Afghan policemen [see LWJ report, Haqqani Network directed Kabul hotel assault by phone from Pakistan].
Qari Zakir, the Haqqani Network’s chief of suicide operations, was also listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Zakir, who is also known as Abdul Rauf, was also Haqqani Network’s “operational commander in Kabul, Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan provinces” in Afghanistan. Additionally, Zakir directed the group’s “training program, which includes instruction in small arms, heavy weapons, and basic improvised explosive device (IED) construction.”
Zakir’s ties to Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters were extensive. He is thought to have been killed alongside Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden and a rising star in Al Qaeda, in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal agency in September 2019.
Mullah Sangeen Zadran, like many top Haqqani Network leaders, was also listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. According to State, Sangeen helped “lead fighters in attacks across Southeastern Afghanistan, and is believed to have planned and coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into Afghanistan.” He served as the Taliban’s military commander and then shadow governor of Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, as well as a senior aid to Sirajuddin before he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan on Sept. 5, 2013.
Four years before his death, Sangeen openly admitted that the bond between the “brothers” of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were unbreakable. In an interview released in Sept. 2009 by As Sahab, Al Qaeda’s official media outlet, Sangeen said: “We do not see any difference between Taliban and Al Qaeda,” and the two groups “are all one and are united by Islam.” Sangeen also noted that Osama bin Laden “has pledged allegiance” to Taliban emir Mullah Muhammad Omar “and has reassured his leadership again and again.”
Sangeen was so revered by the Taliban that the group put up a billboard with his image on it in Khost province less than a month after the group took control of Afghanistan.
Ghani Muhammad is a military commander who is known to be close to Sirajuddin. In the past he was based out of Mir Ali in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. Mir Ali is a known hub for foreign jihadists, including Al Qaeda. A U.S. intelligence source told FDD’s Long War Journal that Muhammad previously worked with Abu Kasha al Iraqi, a top Al Qaeda military commander who was based in Mir Ali and is thought to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2012.
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