From being a prized asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to founding one of the most dreaded terror organisations, Haqqani Network leader Jalaluddin Haqqani was a significant militant figure in Afghanistan who maintained close ties with both the Taliban and al-Qaida. Even though he relinquished operational leadership of the group some years ago to his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s death will come as a relief to US and Afghan security forces.
Haqqani rose to prominence in the 1980s as a guerrilla leader in the US-backed campaign against Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan. He founded the Haqqani Network in 1970 to fight the Soviet forces and even received funding from the US, Reuters reported. However, he later allied himself to the Taliban after they took power in Afghanistan in 1996.
Haqqani was appointed the minister of tribal affairs, a position he held till 2001 when the US invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban. A member of the Pashtun Jadran tribe from Afghanistan’s Paktiya province, Haqqani is believed to have studied in the Dar al-Ulum Haqqaniyaa madrassa in Pakistan, which is widely known for its links to the Taliban.
Jalaluddin had a cordial relation with Pakistan and American intelligence agencies believed that he had links to the ISI. However, even though Pakistan saw him as a strategic asset who could mediate between the various factions, he was equally criticised for unable to act against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Taliban’s Pakistan arm.
A fluent Arabic speaker, Jalaluddin also fostered close ties with former al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, Reuters reported. Haqqani was born in 1950 and has two wives – one Afghan and the other is an Arab.
His son Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also the Taliban’s deputy leader, is presently heading the militant outfit. Haqqani had not been heard from in several years, and reports of his death had been widespread in 2015. This is the first time the militant network has confirmed his death.