Taliban announce death of founder of Afghanistan’s most feared terrorist group, former aide says he died years ago
What’s the Haqqani network?
The Haqqani network is a terrorist group which is fighting against US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan government. While it operates in Afghanistan, the group’s leadership is based in Pakistan.
What is it known for?
The Haqqani network attacked the Indian consulate in Jalalabad twice in 2007, and bombed the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008, in which 58 people were killed. The group attacked the embassy again in 2009, killing 17 people. It also carried out several attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan. The group exploded a truck bomb in the middle of a crowded intersection in Kabul in 2017, killing over 150. The network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Westerners for ransom.
Read | Who was Jalaluddin Haqqani?
How was it formed?
The Haqqani network came to be during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The US and Pakistan reached out to Jalaluddin Haqqani for his military prowess, and funded him with arms and money to fight the Russians. Haqqani helped Osama bin Laden set up terror training camps and launch his efforts for global jihad. After 9/11, Haqqani turned against the US.
Proxies of ISI
US officials have long considered Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani to be among the closest proxies for Pakistan’s ISI. Analysts say Pakistan appears to view the Haqqanis as an asset holding India at bay in Afghanistan.
He may have died years ago.
Afghan officials have maintained that Jalaluddin has been dead for at least four years. One senior Afghan official said the death announcement now was probably related to a planned visit this week to Pakistan by senior US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are seeking an end to the Afghan war.
Mawlawi Sardar Zadran, a distant relative of Haqqani, said, “They kept the news secret because it would negatively affect his supporters — because those who were very loyal to him might not continue fighting after his death,” Zadran told The New York Times. He added: “The other reason for hiding his death was that they were not able to hold funeral and prayer ceremonies because of the fears of airstrikes and being targeted. So if they had announced that Jalaluddin had died, they would have had to hold ceremonies, which was risky at that time.”