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Haqqani Network (HQN)

The United States has long accused Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, of strong ties to the Haqqani Network (HQN) insurgent group. The Haqqani Network was primarily based in North Waziristan, Pakistan, and conducted cross-border operations into eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. The group was primarily composed of members of the Zadran tribe. The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting US, Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, and typically conduct coordinated small-arms assaults coupled with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide attacks, and attacks using bomb-laden vehicles.

Centered in the city of Khost, the followers of popular warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani continue to resist extension of the Karzai government's authority into their border region. In the 1980s Jalaluddin Haqqani fought as a mujahedin leader against Soviet forces, receiving substantial assistance from the CIA by way of Pakistan's ISI. His power was enhanced by hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid provided by the ISI and CIA.

Haqqani, operated along the Pakistan border and had close ties to Arab fighters (who would later form al-Qaeda) and powerful weapons smuggling networks. Former US officials and mujahideen say that commanders such as Hecmatyar, Khalis, and Haqqani did not personally muddy their hands by moving drugs. They had subordinates who ran their narcotics operations but took a cut of all the profits in their control zones.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of Hekmatyar's most effective former commanders. Osama bin Laden was recruited by Haqqani as a foreign fighter in Afghanistan, where he received training to battle the Soviets. Jalaluddin Haqqani later joined the Taliban and became its minister for tribal affairs. Though he had joined the Taliban, he joined the government as a Minister but retained a separate power base in his home Zadran district and tribe, east of Kabul.

The Haqqani network developed of pragmatic relationships with other organizations with different, sometimes conflicting objectives. For example, al-Qaeda, the Tehrik-e-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban) and elements of the ISI, while battling each other, all work with the Haqqani network. Attempts by the United States to reach an agreement with the network further complicated matters. Nevertheless, the Haqqani network cooperated with each one, gradually expanding its influence and power as it worked to become a player among global terrorist organizations.

By 2008 anti-government forces were multifaceted, and consisted not only of Taliban loyalists but also of various jihadists - Gulbeddin Hekmatyar's faction of Hizb-i-Islami in the east and Jalaluddin Haqqani's group in North Waziristan (among others). These groups had distinct goals, and their collaboration was less alliance than marriage of convenience. It was at times difficult at a distance to attribute and disaggregate the actions of each, and "Taliban" functions as a flawed shorthand. The Haqqani network is closely associated with the Taliban and one of its strongest factions. Reportedly, the network is also particularly closely linked to al Qaeda.

Jalaluddin Haqqani's son Sirajudin has reportedly ascended to a key leadership role, and reportedly called for changes in the leadership of the Quetta shura. US officials in Afghanistan note that Sirajudin, like his father, has focused on his home Zadran district but has also expanded his activities into the areas south of Kabul. Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin were the commanders of the mujahideen forces that fought the Pakistani government to a draw in Waziristan in 2008.

Popular with Middle Eastern private backers, Jalaluddin Haqqani in the past had been eagerly courted by the Karzai government with offers of government positions. The important Taliban "Peshawar Shura" is headquartered in Pakistan's North West Frontier province. The militias headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani were fighting US forces alongside the Taliban. Hekmatyar operates in the tribal areas of Dir and Bajur, while Jalaluddin Haqqani is based in Waziristan. Sirajuddin Haqqani operated in Ghazni, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika and Khost area.

In July 2008 a CIA assessment specifically pointed to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believed maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

On 22 September 2011, outgoing US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of actively supporting the Haqqani network and their operations inside Pakistan. Admiral Mullen claimed to have evidence of the link between the ISI and the insurgent group. The Pakistani government rejected the accusations, saying that it maintained back-channel contacts with the group for the purposes of furthering peace and stability.

In 2014 the Haqqani Network remained the most potent strain of the insurgency and the greatest risk to U.S. and coalition forces due to its focus on high-profile attacks. The Haqqani Network and affiliated groups share the goals of expelling U.S. and coalition forces, destabilizing the Afghan government, and reestablishing an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They would likely remain the most significant threat to coalition forces in the post-2014 non-combat mission, especially if they wre not denied sanctuary in Pakistan.

In the wake of the July 2015 announcement of long-time Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death in 2013 and Mullah Mansour’s attempt to consolidate the movement behind his leadership, Afghan, Pakistani, and other interlocutors continue to emphasize the importance of political reconciliation. However, the Taliban’s resilience throughout the second half of 2015 demonstrated their resolve to continue fighting. The elevation of Haqqani Network leader Siraj Haqqani as Taliban leader Mullah Mansour’s deputy signals that the Haqqani Network remained a critical and lethal component of the overall Taliban-led insurgency.

Of the groups involved in the Taliban-led insurgency, the Haqqani Network remains the greatest threat to US, coalition, and Afghan forces and continues to be the most critical enabler of al Qaeda. Haqqani Network leader Siraj Haqqani’s elevation as Taliban leader Mullah Mansour’s deputy has further strengthened the Haqqani Network’s role in the Taliban-led insurgency. The Haqqani Network and affiliated groups shared the goals of expelling US and coalition forces, overthrowing the Afghan government, and re-establishing an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network led the insurgency in the eastern Afghan provinces of Paktika and Khost, and demonstrated the capability and intent to support and launch high-profile, complex attacks across the country and in the Kabul region. Pakistani military operations early in 2015 caused some disruption to the Haqqani Network; however, it has still been able to plan and conduct attacks. During this period, US and Afghan special operations forces increased security operations against the Haqqani Network and disrupted several dangerous threat streams that sought to inflict significant casualties against US, coalition, and Afghan personnel, particularly in Kabul.

Sirajuddin Haqqani [aka Siraj, Khalifa, Mohammad Siraj, Sarajadin, Cirodjiddin, Seraj, Arkani, Khalifa (Boss) Shahib, Halifa, Ahmed Zia, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, Siraj Haqqani, Serajuddin Haqani, Siraj Haqani, or Saraj Haqani] is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on Kabul’s Serena Hotel in Afghanistan that killed six people, including an American citizen, Sirajuddin Haqqani allegedly was inolved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008. He has admitted planning this January 2008 attack.

Acting under the authority of and in accordance with section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001, as amended by Executive Order 13268 of July 2, 2002, and Executive Order 13284 of January 23, 2003, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice determined February 29, 2008 [published in the Federal Register 07 March 2008] that the individual known as Sirajuddin Haqqani (aka Sirajuddin Haqani, aka Siraj Haqqani, aka Siraj Haqani, aka Saraj Haqqani, aka Saraj Haqani) has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

Consistent with the determination in section 10 of Executive Order 13224 that “prior notice to persons determined to be subject to the Order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States would render ineffectual the blocking and other measures authorized in the Order because of the ability to transfer funds instantaneously,” Rice determined that no prior notice needs to be provided to any person subject to this determination who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, because to do so would render ineffectual the measures authorized in the Order.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani. Haqqani is thought to stay in Pakistan, specifically the Miram Shah, North Waziristan, Pakistan, area. He is reportedly a senior leader of the Haqqani network, and maintains close ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Haqqani is a specially designated global terrorist.

Taliban sources say Sirajuddin Haqqani studied in a religious seminary, Mamba-ul-Uloom, that his ailing father had established in Pakistan’s North Waziristan – a volatile tribal region near the Afghan border during the armed struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network is responsible for some of the highest-profile attacks of the Afghan war, including the June 2011 assault on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, conducted jointly with the Afghan Taliban, and two major suicide bombings—in 2008 and 2009 — against the Indian Embassy in Kabul. In September 2011, the Haqqanis participated in a day-long assault against major targets in Kabul, including the US Embassy, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, the Afghan Presidential Palace, and the Afghan National Directorate of Security headquarters. On 13 September 2011, Haqqani network terrorists staged a 20-hour attack on foreign embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan — the longest to date. It gained them worldwide attention.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said September 22, 2011 Pakistan’s intelligence service directly aided the terrorist Haqqani network’s wave of attacks against US servicemembers and other targets in Afghanistan. The US had evidence, he said, that Pakistan supported the massive truck bomb that injured 80 U.S. troops at Combat Outpost Sayed Abad on Sept. 10, as well as last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, a brazen assault on a Kabul hotel in June and several smaller operations. “The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency,” Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

More recently, in October 2013, Afghan security forces intercepted a truck bomb deployed by the Haqqanis against Forward Operating Base Goode in Paktiya Province. The device, which did not detonate, contained some 61,500 pounds of explosives and was the largest truck bomb ever built. The group is also involved in a number of criminal activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and smuggling.

On 3 October 2011, Siraj Haqqani said in an interview with the BBC that the United States was one of many nations whose intelligence agencies had asked the group to quit the Afghan insurgency. On 21 October 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then visiting Pakistan, acknowledged that the United States has reached out to the militant Haqqani network in a bid to end the violence in war-torn Afghanistan. Her visit was also said to be part of US pressure for Pakistani military action against the group in Pakistan's North Waziristan.

The US Government in 2012 designated the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization because of its involvement in the Afghan insurgency, attacks on US military and civilian personnel and Western interests in Afghanistan, and because of its ties to the Taliban and al-Qa‘ida. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said 07 September 2012, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially designated the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization: “I strongly support Secretary Clinton’s designation of the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization. This group is responsible for more than 1,300 killed and injured U.S. troops, orchestrates the largest attacks inside Afghanistan, assassinates Afghan leaders and seeks control of Afghan provinces.

“This action will make it harder for the Haqqani Network to raise funds and operate its businesses, and will create new risks for anyone working with it. Over the past two years I have heard from leaders in the intelligence community and military in Washington and in Kabul that designation is the right thing to do. This is a terrorist organization and an enemy of the United States, and I urge Pakistan to redouble its efforts—working with U.S. and Afghan partners—to eliminate the Haqqani threat.”

The Defense Department welcomed the decision by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to designate the Haqqani network a terrorist organization, Pentagon Spokesman George Little said 07 September 2012. “The Haqqani network represents a significant threat to U.S. national security, and we will continue our aggressive military action against this threat,” Little said in a written statement. Military officials had repeatedly connected the group to deadly attacks in Afghanistan, including those against U.S. forces and targets such as the American embassy in Kabul.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, led the day-to-day activities of the group, along with several of his closest relatives. In August 2014 the US Department of State's Rewards for Justice program is offering new rewards for information on four key leaders of the Haqqani Network (HQN) terrorist organization and increased a previously announced reward offer for information on another leader of the group. The Department has authorized rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the location of Aziz Haqqani, Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, Yahya Haqqani, and Abdul Rauf Zakir. The Department also increased its previous reward offer of up to $5 million for information on the group’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, to up to $10 million.

Aziz Haqqani is Sirajuddin’s brother and is involved in logistical operations and command decisions involving cross-border attacks on ISAF and Afghan forces. He also plays a key role in HQN’s operations in Kabul and in major attacks throughout Afghanistan.

Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s uncle, is a senior HQN member who has raised funds for the Taliban and who has been linked to al-Qaida terrorist operations. He also has overseen the detention of hostages captured by HQN and Taliban fighters. The Department of the Treasury designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on February 9, 2011.

Yahya Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s brother-in-law, has been closely involved in the group’s operational, financial, and propaganda activities, and has served as de-facto leader when other senior-most HQN leaders were absent. He has delivered funds to HQN commanders and al-Qaida members. He has also served as HQN’s primary liaison with foreign terrorists fighting in the region. The Department of the Treasury designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on February 5, 2014.

Abdul Rauf Zakir is HQN’s chief of suicide operations and its operational commander for Kabul Province and the northern provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan. He also oversees HQN’s weapons training program, whose trainees killed 16 Afghans, including six children, in the September 2011 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The Department of State designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 on November 5, 2012.

An official Taliban statement on 01 August 2015 denied reports by Pakistani media that the founder of the Haqqani network -- a militant group affiliated with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that is blamed for some of Afghanistan's deadliest suicide attacks -- died in 2014. Multiple credible Taliban sources had on 31 July 2015 that Jaluluddin Haqqani died in 2014 from an illness and was buried in Afghanistan's southeastern province of Khost near the border with Pakistan.

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