As the Taliban form a new government in Afghanistan, one important constituent of the group, the Haqqani network, gains importance once again. The Haqqani network has troubled the US and NATO forces in the past. Now, it unsettles India as a Carnegie India report claims that the Haqqani network would stick to the anti-India agenda even when the Taliban make a rapprochement to the country. What is the Haqqani network and how it maintains a distinct identity within the ranks of the Taliban, Siraj Khan writes.
Founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani in the 1980s, the
Haqqani network was one of the main Afghan jihadist groups fighting against the
During the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union, the Haqqani network, like other jihadist groups, had the full backing of the United States, but the group was added to the list of terrorist organizations after the 9/11 attacks.
The US decision was rooted in Afghanistan’s realities.
When the Taliban rose in the 1990s, unlike other jihadist groups the
Haqqanis supported them and the Haqqani network is
still an important part of the Taliban movement.
The group was considered dangerous and highly active by the NATO and coalition forces during the 20-year Afghan war, and according to the US officials, it was behind a majority of the major attacks on NATO forces.
Various estimates put the number of its fighters between 6,000 and 8,000 – a modest force in terms of numbers but lethal for its tactics.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of Haqqani network
Jalaluddin Haqqani hailed from Afghanistan’s Paktika province and was considered one of the most respected leaders in the Taliban’s inner circle, second only to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban Emir who died in 2013.
Jalaluddin Haqqani was born in Paktika in 1939 and
received religious education at Jamia Dar al-Ulum Haqqania Akora Khattak, where
the majority of the Taliban leadership is said to have graduated from.
During the Afghan jihad, they conducted coordinated operations in eastern Afghanistan against the Russian forces from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
The Taliban announced Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death on
December 4, 2018, and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani has been the head of the
network ever since.
The United States banned the Haqqani Network in 2012 and set a $5m bounty on the head of Sirajuddin Haqqani.
of Haqqani Network in new Afghan government
Key members of the group have been active since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, and Haqqani network leaders continue to be appointed to key positions in the new administration.
The upcoming Taliban cabinet reportedly includes Sirajuddin
Haqqani as interior minister. He is also the deputy emir of the Taliban.
Sirajuddin Haqqani’s uncle, Khalil Haqqani, is deeply
involved in the process of government formation, and while meeting with various
Afghan factions, he is accepting allegiance vows from the new Taliban
Sirajuddin Haqqani’s brother, Anas Haqqani, was one
of the first Taliban leaders to begin a series of meetings with other Afghan
political leaders, including Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah.
Anas Haqqani is a member of the Taliban’s Qatar office negotiating team. He was previously held at the Bagram prison for five years but was released at the request of the Taliban after the US opened Qatar talks.
Abdul Baqi Haqqani, a key member of the group, has recently been appointed as the head of the higher education department, while Maulana Naeem-ul-Haq Haqqani has been given a key position in the information and culture department.
Although the Haqqani network is now part of the
Taliban, it has maintained a distinct identity despite its affiliation with the
Taliban and has its own internal organization.