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Entries in Haqqani (21)

Friday
Sep072012

Haqqani Network Officially Designated 'Terrorists'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department today officially named the Haqqani network, a violent Taliban-affiliated militant group based in Pakistan, as a terrorist organization after weeks of deliberation, according to a senior State Department official.

The official told reporters traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that she signed a report to Congress saying that the group, which is believed to have been responsible for several high-profile attacks and kidnappings, "meets the statutory criteria for designation." Top leaders of the organization had already been designated terrorists by the State and Treasury departments, but this is the first time the entire group has been recognized as such and will be subject to the financial constraints that come with the designation.

The Haqqanis have been accused of launching deadly cross-border attacks in Afghanistan on U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians, including the suicide bombings at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel last June.

Clinton's decision comes at the tail end of a 30-day deadline for the designation that was pushed by Congress.

"The Haqqani network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan," Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (Michigan-R.) said in July when the House voted for the designation. "To better protect the lives of U.S. soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated."

The State Department official's comments on the designation confirm a report earlier Friday from The New York Times in which a senior administration official said the move "shows that we are using everything we can to put the squeeze on these guys."

Administration officials were reportedly hesitant to officially call the network a terror organization because it could hurt America's already icy relationship with Pakistan. The Haqqani network is believed to have close ties to the Pakistani government and its powerful intelligence agency, the ISI.

Congress has been expressing increased frustration with Pakistan's lack of action against the Haqqanis and weeks before making her decision on the designation, Clinton said it was as if the Pakistani government was "like the guy who keeps poisonous snakes in his backyard convinced they'll only attack his neighbors."

"That is not what is happening inside Pakistan. They are losing sovereignty," she said in June.

In August, senators on the Foreign Relations Committee told Foreign Policy's The Cable that they were holding up the appointment of Obama administration nominee for the new ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Olson, until they had more detail on how he planned to address the issue.

Olson promised to make the Haqqani network one of his top priorities at his confirmation hearing in July, but several senators told the Cable that they wanted to use Olson's confirmation as an opportunity to gauge where the administration stood on the Haqqani network.

Last week, Clinton said that she would meet Congress' deadline on the designation decision, but said the U.S. was already squeezing the Haqqanis.

"We are drying up their resources. We are targeting their military and intelligence personnel. We are pressing the Pakistanis to step up their own efforts," she said.

A recent report on the Haqqani network from West Point's Combating Terrorism Center described the group as a sly organization happy to "play second fiddle" to other terror groups and leaders in order to keep a low profile on the international stage.

"For much of the last decade, this practice succeeded in decreasing the visibility of the network; prior to 2008, there was scant media reporting on the Haqqanis as constituting a distinct or significant entity," the report says. "The capacity of Haqqani leaders to form strategic alliances, such as those with al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and the ISI, have served to increase the network's resiliency, as well as their stature within the community."

"Community members in [Pakistan's northern border region] interviewed for this project described the Haqqanis as virtually untouchable," the July 2012 report says.

A recent drone strike may have called that claim into question, however, as it reportedly took out Badruddin Haqqani, a key commander in the group and son of the Haqqani network's founder, Jalaladin Haqqani.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Militant Commander Likely Killed in Drone Strike, US Officials Say

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- U.S. officials on Thursday said that an American drone strike likely took out a top commander of a powerful militant group the U.S. says is responsible for deadly, high-profile terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Badruddin Haqqani, described by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point as the "chief of operations" of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, had been reported killed last week in a drone strike.  After those reports, however, a Taliban spokesperson denied Badruddin's death, saying in an email to reporters that he was alive and well in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, two U.S. officials, including a senior American diplomat, told ABC News that the U.S. government believes Badruddin was among those killed in an Aug. 21 drone strike.  Pakistani intelligence officials told ABC News they had heard from area locals the Haqqani commander had been killed.

"This is a significant loss from the Haqqani network as [Badruddin] was an operational leader behind a number of the group's high-profile attacks, including the attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul," an American official said, apparently referring to an assault on the embassy in September 2011.

Last May, Badruddin Haqqani was added to the U.S. State Department's list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  The U.S. government said he ran kidnapping operations for the Haqqani network and was the one responsible for holding New York Times reporter David Rohde hostage before the reporter made a dramatic escape in 2009.  There is evidence Badruddin also personally directed the deadly attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011, according to the CTC.

Badruddin's father, Nasiruddin, is the founder of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network and the U.S. government alleges Badruddin's brother, Sirajuddin, maintains close ties with al Qaeda.  Both have been designated terrorists and the State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to Sirajuddin's capture.

The State Department says the Haqqanis are at the "forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan" and a recent report by the CTC describes the Haqqani network as a ruthless and somewhat sophisticated terror organization.

"The Haqqanis employ violence and intimidation to extort legal firms and prominent community members, and engage in kidnap for ransom schemes," the report says.  "The Haqqanis also appear to operate their own front companies, many of which appear to be directed at laundering illicit proceeds... [T]he Haqqanis have evolved into an efficient, transnational jihadi industry, one which supports their war effort, and which is supported by it."

"The broad range of business activities in which the Haqqanis engage suggest that the pursuit of wealth and power may be just as important to network leaders as the Islamist and nationalistic ideals for which the Haqqanis claim to fight," it says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

No Confirmation Yet on Whether Pakistani Militant Is Actually Dead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The "is he or isn't he dead" debate about a leading Pakistani militant continued on Monday as U.S. forces in Afghanistan could not verify if Badruddin Haqqani, the son of the founder of the Haqqani network, was killed in an air strike late last week.

The Afghans and Pakistanis seem to believe it's true while the Taliban says he's still alive.

Eliminating Badruddin Haqqani would definitely impair the group that bears his father's name because the militant has been blamed for coordinating attacks in Kabul and organizing other aspects of the criminal-terrorist enterprise, including kidnappings and suicide bombings, that has ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The Haqqani network, which was formed in Pakistan, has spread its activities to Afghanistan and is believed to be an even bigger threat to the stability of the government than the Taliban.

While Badruddin Haqqani's death, if true, is a plus, it's expected that his place would be taken over by an older brother.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Panetta Reveals US Has Lost Patience with Pakistan

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a surprise visit to Afghanistan Thursday but his mind was clearly on neighboring Pakistan.

Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have risen dramatically since the assassination of Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, with Pakistan remaining a hotbed for terrorist activity.

Panetta didn't hold back his frustration, saying that the administration has reached "the limits of our patience" with Pakistan for failing to reign in the outlaw Haqqani terrorist network that has links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Washington considers the Haqqani group the biggest deterrent to stability in Afghanistan as its fighters have launched deadly attacks on both American and Afghan soldiers and civilians.

Meeting with his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak, Panetta told reporters, "It is extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven from taking place and allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces."

Ironically, the U.S. provides billions to Pakistan each year to go out and destroy these safe havens for militants -- a mission which the country appears to be failing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Haqqani Network Charged with Launching Major Offensive in Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. is blaming a Pakistani insurgent group for launching a series of coordinated attacks last Sunday that struck Kabul and other major cities in Afghanistan.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said Thursday that the Pentagon is confident the Haqqani network, which has ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda, was behind the effort to target the Afghan parliament and various embassies in Kabul.

The assault was initially billed as the start of the Taliban's spring offensive, but evidence since then points to a more intricate and carefully plotted attack that is more the hallmark of the Haqqani network.

Crocker called the insurgents "the worst of the worst" and "a group of killers, pure and simple."

Afghan security forces with little help from the coalition were able to beat back the 18-hour siege, which cost the lives of 12 Afghans.  Meanwhile, three dozen Haqqani fighters died during the attacks.

This latest action by the Haqqani network spurred Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to demand that Islamabad shut down sanctuaries in Pakistan that the group and other militants continue to use as a base to launch attacks inside Afghanistan.

However, critics in Pakistan accused the U.S. of using the Haqqani network as an excuse to justify drone attacks in the lawless northwestern region where the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Haqqanis hold sway.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr172012

Afghan President Praises His Forces' Handling of Insurgent Attacks

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In spite of an intelligence failure that didn't foresee Sunday's multi-pronged attack in Kabul and other Afghan cities, President Hamid Karzai praised his forces for repelling the start of the Taliban's annual spring offensive.

While the coordinated series of attacks appeared to take everyone by surprise, the NATO coalition decided to allow Afghan soldiers and police to take the lead in fighting the militants, much to the pleasure of Karzai and other government officials.

Karzai said on Monday that the response shows that his security forces can handle the enemy once coalition troops begin to leave Afghanistan en masse.

The 18-hour siege across the country was the most extensive since militants attacked various embassies in Kabul last September.

Dozens of enemy fighters were killed Sunday while the Afghan government reported the deaths of eight security forces and four civilians.

Meanwhile, it's believed that the Haqqani network, a long-established insurgent group from Pakistan that has allied itself with the Taliban, was actually behind Sunday's long assault, given its history of focusing attacks on Kabul.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested on Monday that the Haqqani network coordinated the attacks.

Karzai acknowledged an intelligence failure on his country's part but put most of the blame on NATO for not knowing when and where the attacks would take place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov032011

Pakistan Drone Attack Targets Haqqani Compound

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(PESHAWAR, Pakistan) -- A drone attack in northwest Pakistan killed at least two suspected militants on Thursday and left another four seriously wounded, according to initial reports out of the region.

The four-missile strike targeted a North Waziristan compound belonging to Haqqani loyalists located near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

No information regarding their identities was immediately available.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct212011

US Reached Out to Haqqani Terrorists, Clinton Says

Win McNamee/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Obama administration has reached out to the Haqqani network, the terror group based in Pakistan that is blamed for a string of attacks in Afghanistan, including the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed Friday.

“We have reached out to the Taliban, we have reached out to the Haqqani network to test their willingness and their sincerity. And we are now working among us — Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States — to try to put together a process that would sequence us toward an actual negotiation,” Clinton told reporters in Islamabad.

Clinton is in Pakistan, pressing that government to do more to crack down on terror groups like the Haqqanis.

She said the meeting was arranged by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service, which the U.S. has accused of colluding with terror groups, and was only “preliminary” to see if the Haqqanis were interested in talks.

“We had one preliminary meeting to essentially just see if they would show up for even a preliminary meeting,” Clinton said, adding that no negotiations are ongoing.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, later told reporters traveling with Clinton that the message during that meeting was clear: that the door is open to militants who want to meet conditions for peace, but that the U.S. was also prepared to fight.

The meeting took place last summer before the September embassy attack and had the support of the Afghan government. The official described the meeting as one of several “straws in the wind” to determine how to develop a political resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Clinton is in Pakistan with CIA Director David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey to deliver a tough, unified message to Pakistan to crack down on militants operating within their borders.

Clinton told reporters that her two days of meetings in Pakistan have “done a lot to clear the air” and said that the relationship between the military and intelligence agencies are “back on the right trajectory.”

“We’re 90 to 95 percent on the same page,” Clinton said, adding quickly that they’re still working on the rest.

“I’m feeling very reassured and I think we’re back on the right track,” she added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct212011

Hillary Clinton Pushes Pakistan to Crack Down on Militant Safe Havens

Win McNamee/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- In a press conference in Islamabad Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Pakistan that it had tolerated safe havens inside its borders for too long.

"If you have a snake in the backyard, you can't expect it to only bite the neighbors," Clinton said.  "It's eventually going to bite you."

The point of that story and her 24-hour trip to the country is clear: lead a high-level delegation along with the U.S.' top spy and top military official to collectively tell the Pakistanis that they need to make a choice -- either kill the Afghan Taliban that has safe havens in Pakistan, help the U.S. kill the Afghan Taliban, or bring the Afghan Taliban to the table.

The key event was Thursday night, when Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Pakistan's army and ISI chiefs.

It is not yet known how the meeting went, but in the words of one senior U.S. official, it was "tough."

In Friday's press conference, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar admitted there were militant safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border, but insisted that it was time to "give peace a chance" -- code for political talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Clinton echoed Khar's remarks, saying that the goal of her trip wasn't only about attacking militant safe havens.

"The support from the Pakistanis on al Qaeda has been effective.  Now we have to turn our attention to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network," Clinton said.  "We have to get them to talk, and if that fails, then we need to deal with the threat."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct142011

Pakistan Drone Attack Nets at Least 3 Suspected Militants

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Three militants were killed Friday in a two-missile attack on a vehicle in the Darpa Khel village of North Waziristan, near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The drone strike took place a short distance from Thursday's twin drone attack that killed Haqqani network commander Jalil Haqqani and others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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