Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani Network, one of Afghanistan’s most feared militant groups, has died after a long illness, the Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday. The founder of the outlawed outfit had been paralysed for the past 10 years and reports of his death had even surfaced in 2015.
Haqqani, a former anti-Soviet commander in Afghanistan, formed the network in the 1970s and in 1995 pledged allegiance to the Taliban.
The news of Haqqani’s death was announced by the Taliban in a statement. Jalaluddin “was from among the great distinguished Jihadi personalities of this era,” AFP quoted the Taliban as saying. The Haqqani Network is presently being headed by Jalaluddin’s son Sirajuddin, who is also the Taliban’s deputy leader.
READ | Who was Jalaluddin Haqqani?
The dreaded terrorist group has been blamed for some of the deadliest violence in Afghanistan, including attacks on embassies in Kabul, the Afghan parliament building, local residents and US military bases. The terrorist outfit has also been blamed for plotting attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
After becoming a component of the Taliban, the Haqqani Network helped it capture Kabul 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.
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. A fluent Arabic speaker, Jalaluddin also fostered close ties with former al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, who was neutralised by US forces in Abbottabad in 2011.
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