A glance at the Haqqani network

Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the militant group the Haqqani network. File Photo

Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the militant group the Haqqani network. File Photo   | Photo Credit: MOHAMMED RIAZ

What is the Haqqani network?

A: The Haqqani network is considered one of the most dangerous militant groups fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, partly because of its record of carrying out high-profile attacks in Kabul. The group is based across the border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area but also has significant strength in eastern Afghanistan, the original home of the network’s founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani. He made a name for himself in the 1980s when he fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, with extensive support from U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies. He fled to Pakistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Haqqani is now believed to be in his 60s or older and has handed day-to-day operations of the group over to his son, Sirajuddin.

What impact will the U.S. move have ?

A: The designation requires U.S. financial institutions to freeze assets of the network and outlaws Americans from providing it funds or material support. It can also prevent members of the group from travelling to the U.S. Analysts doubt the designation will have much of an impact given the informal nature of its financing network and the lack of ties with the U.S. Many of the network’s senior leaders have already been blacklisted individually, and that has seemingly had little effect.

What impact will it have on U.S. relationship with Pakistan or the peace process in Afghanistan?

A: The designation could strain troubled ties between the U.S. and Pakistan. It could also complicate U.S. efforts to strike a peace deal in Afghanistan because of the close ties between the Taliban and the Haqqani network. Pakistan has long criticised the U.S. for trying to fight and talk with militants at the same time.

How many fighters make up the Haqqani network and how much violence are they responsible for in Afghanistan?

A: The network is believed to be composed of several hundred core members and thousands of fighters with varying degrees of affiliation and loyalty, according to the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point, N.Y. A U.S. defence official estimated the group’s size at 2,000 to 4,000 militants. U.S. officials have told AP that the network is responsible for less than 20 per cent of all U.S. and NATO casualties in Afghanistan.

What is the Haqqani network’s relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaeda?

A: The network has pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but operates independently. The elder Haqqani developed close ties to Osama bin Laden during the Soviet war in Afghanistan when both of them spent months together on the front lines, according to the Washington-based New American Foundation. Its ties to al-Qaeda and other foreign militant groups have remained strong, one of the reasons why it has become such a potent force in Afghanistan.

Does the Haqqani network pose a threat to the U.S. homeland?

A: The U.S. intelligence community believes the Haqqani network is focused on attacking local enemies, with no aspirations to attack the U.S., said a U.S. defence official. But the group’s ties with al-Qaeda and other transnational militant groups are a concern to the U.S.

What is the Haqqani network’s relationship with Pakistan?

A: Ties between Pakistan’s intelligence agency and the elder Haqqani stretch back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have accused Pakistan of continuing to support the group, but Islamabad has denied the allegation. The U.S. has demanded Pakistan target the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, but it has refused.

Analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target a group that could be a potential ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 8:17:46 PM |

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