Monday, July 19, 2010

The Haqqani Network--A Brief History up to 2001

The Haqqani Network is a semi-autonomous group of Sunni Muslim militants based out of the North Waziristan Province in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). Their primary mission is to expel (kill) all Western and non-Muslim people from the country of Afghanistan. They share somewhat close ties to the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) led by Mullah Omar (eye-patch guy) and the al Qaeda global terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. Additionally, they enjoy preferential treatment and protection by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. Consequently, they publicly support the country of Pakistan and reject the goals of anti-Pakistan militant groups, such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). They have been euphemistically labeled a “moderate” militant group, but have become increasingly radicalized in the past few years.

**I call them militants and not insurgents because they were in Afghanistan/North Waziristan long before NATO "occupied" Afghanistan.**

The Haqqani "network" formed in the early 1980s as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Its founder and current figurehead, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is from the town of Khost in the Paktiya Province of eastern Afghanistan. To counter the Soviet occupation from a safe haven, Haqqani relocated to the North Waziristan and set up operating bases near the capital of Miram Shah, where he could safely launch cross border raids. The group was originally comprised mainly of fellow Zardani Tribesmen. Haqqani joined the Khalis offshoot of the Hezb-i-Islami organization (he had issues with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who enjoyed support from Iran) and worked in close concert with other mujahedeen groups, which were collectively known as the Peshawar Seven.

Jalaluddin Haqqani was a natural born military leader and went on to become the most successful and well respected mujahedeen commander during the Soviet occupation. Part of his success was due, however, to the generous support bestowed upon them by the Pakistani ISI (an organization that is widely known to suffer widespread corruption) and the American CIA. Both organizations funneled in millions of dollars in aid and weapons. Along with the ISI and CIA, a tall, lanky fellow from Saudi Arabia also played a hand in Haqqani's (and the rest of the mujahedeen's) success. While fighting in Afghanistan, Haqqani met Osama bin Laden, where the two formed a professional and personal relationship around 1986. Bin Laden was not known for his military prowess, but had access to vast amounts of funding and was charismatic, thus he made an excellent recruiter of foreign fighters. Presumably in exchange for money and weapons, Haqqani offered his men to protect bin Laden’s training camps (in the Khost area).

After the pullout of Soviet troops in 1989, a civil war erupted in Afghanistan. The "network" became amorphorous, as a safe haven was not needed, but Haqqani continued to rely on the Khost and North Waziristan areas for support. Haqqani continued to lead his men in combat, this time against the pro-Soviet puppet government headed by Dr. Mohammad Najibullah. In 1991, his troops captured the City of Khost and after the fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992, he continued fighting against other mujahedeen factions, which were primarily comprised of non-Pashtun ethnic groups from central and northern Afghanistan. As the free for all civil war continued into 1995, Haqqani came under increasing pressure by the Pakistani ISI and bin Laden to join a new group called the Taliban (formed to unify the like-minded miltant groups and impose strict Sharia law throughout the country) in order to help take Kabul and defeat the Northern Alliance (mostly non-Pashtun). His troops eventually joined the Taliban, but never professed allegiance to or took orders from Mullah Omar (the guy with an eye patch) or bin Laden. After the fall of Kabul, Haqqani's militants continued to fight the Northern Alliance where they (and many, many other groups)committed atrocities against the local populace.

Haqqani could do no wrong in the eyes of America prior to approximately 1998. He had helped win the war, which was distantly related to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Empire. Charlie Wilson (yes, that one) even said of him that he was "goodness personified". President Bill Clinton apparently disagreed and launched more than 70 Tomahawk cruise missiles in 1998 at the Haqqani sponsored al Qaeda training camps near Khost. While the primary objective was a response to the Tanzania bombings, the Haqqani-bin Laden link finally appeared on the United States' radar screen.

The Taliban had the Northern Alliance on the ropes just prior to the September 11th attacks. Their hugely popular leader, Ahmad Shah Massood, was killed by Taliban/al Qaeda asassins (exploding video camera) just days before and the entire Alliance was backed into a small corner of northern Afghanistan. In late September 2001, Mullah Omar appointed Haqqani commander in chief of all armed Taliban forces. But, within a month, the tables were completely turned. USASOC troops arrived in October and by November, the Taliban and al Qaeda were in full scale retreat towards the Pakistani border. Along the way, Jalaluddin Haqqani survived several deliberate missile and air strikes. Having operated in the area for decades and resurrecting the "network", Haqqani secured safe passage of many key al Qaeda and Taliban personnel across the border into North Waziristan from the Tora Bora/Nangarhar area.

Would you buy a used car from these guys? Only if you check to see if it's wired first. Sirajuddin Haqqani (Jal's son) on the left, Jalaluddin Haqqani in the middle, and some Pashtun guy on the right.

1 comment:

  1. decent article. Good info. Such groups are somewhat complex, and although their feuds/issues with Western forces in Afghanistan makes it easy for them to all be labeled "terrorists" , tribal politics and family ties (and money of course) has alot to do with their warlordism, and where their loyalties really lie.