Ties of blood: Why there is no separating the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network
New Delhi, Sep 08: A little known head of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Hassan will head the Taliban's leadership council, while the co-founder of the outfit, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who was the main face of the group which signed a peace deal with the United States will be his deputy.
Despite US President, Joe Biden urging the Taliban to cut all ties with terrorist groups, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani Network, who is on the FBI's most wanted list for terrorism will serve as an interior minister.
The relations between the Taliban and Haqqani Network have been very strong. The HQN is even closely linked to the Al-Qaeda and these aspects are likely to complicate any move by the US to cooperate with the Taliban.
Who are the Haqqani Network:
The HQN is a Pashtun Islamist faction which operates in eastern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan.
The outfit got its name from the guerrilla fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani.
The network rose to prominence during the Afghan War against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Haqqani worked very closely with the ISI and the CIA during the war and he became a minister for justice in the interim Cabinet by allying with the Taliban.
After the Taliban formed the government, Haqqani became minister for tribal and border affairs.
Ties with the Al-Qaeda:
Haqqani first met with Osama Bin Laden in the early 1980s. It was after Laden became the head of the Al-Qaeda did he used Afghanistan under Taliban control as a base to plan and execute the 9/11 attacks.
Haqqani has been described by the US National Counterterrorism Centre's International Terrorism guide as Laden's closest mentors. The US had intelligence that following the 9/11 attacks, Laden was hiding at a Haqqani base. While several terrorist were killed when cruise missiles hit the Haqqani base, Laden however managed to escape.
In September 2018 Haqqani died after which he was replaced by his son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is today is an acting minister in the new Taliban government.
A bone of contention:
The proximity between Pakistan and the Haqqani Network is a well known one. Following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August, the ISI chief dashed to the capital to broker a deal which involved the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Reports had even suggested that Mullah Baradar who was to head the government had been involved in a clash with the Haqqani Network over differences in the formation of the government.
The proximity between the HQN and ISI had become a contentious issue and a source of conflict between Pakistan and the US. HQN was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in 2012 due to its close associations with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Ties with the Taliban:
The Institute for the Study of War describes Haqqani more extreme than his father. ISW (https://www.understandingwar.org/report/haqqani-network) also says that he maintains close ties with the Al-Qaeda and Pakistan terrorist organisations. Further ISW also points out that Pakistan has refused to launch military attacks in North Waziristan where a sizeable number of the Al-Qaeda leadership resides.
The inclusion of the Haqqanis into the government in the current as well as in the past only suggest the close ties the HQN and Taliban share. In 2015, Sirajuddin had even become deputy leader of the Taliban.
ISW also says that elements within the Pakistan establishment continue to view HQN as a useful ally and proxy force to represent their interests in Afghanistan. " To this end, HQN forces have repeatedly targeted Indian infrastructure an construction projects in Afghanistan.