Organization and Leadership
The Haqqani network is divided into four distinct groups based on social and military status: 1) those who fought against the Soviets; 2) those from the Loya Paktiya (Paktiya, Paktika, and Khost Provinces); 3) those from North Waziristan or local madrassas; and 4) foreign fighters (Arabs, Chechens, and Uzbeks). Members of the last group are considered “bottom of the barrel” as they are foreign and not considered trustworthy. Ironically, they are most often “volunteered” for martyrdom operations. Turnover is high in all four groups due to frequent drone strikes. Attacks in rural areas are accomplished with IEDs/roadside bombs and urban attacks are accomplished with VBEIDs and suicide bombers. The section that performs suicide and commando-style attacks is known as the “Hamza Brigade.”
The network is headquartered in Miram Shah, also known as the Miram Shah Shura, but also has large compounds in Sarai Darpa Khel and Danday Darpa Khel. All three locations are closely monitored by ISAF and are the frequent recipients of drone strikes. The network operates primarily in the Loya Paktiya, but they also have a strong presence in the Logar and Wardak Provinces. The network issues press releases under the title of “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
Although labeled “Taliban”, the network operates autonomously, most likely because the QST needs them more, although both Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin hold positions in the Taliban’s Quetta Shura. The local Afghan and Waziri populace view the Haqqani militants as more moderate and fair than the mainstream QST, which can often use heavy-handed tactics. In Logar Province, for example, the QST was so despised by the locals that they were evicted and eventually replaced by the Haqqani network. Both groups will often mutually support each other, however, as evidenced by recent Haqqani attacks in Kabul (new territory for the network).
Jalaluddin Haqqani was the founder of the network and, on paper, remains so. But his son, Sirajuddin, runs the show these days. He is, by most accounts, more charismatic, violent, and devout than his father, which may explain the growing radicalization of the network. The vast majority of higher echelon commanders are from the Zardan Tribe in Afghanistan. Notable commanders include Nai Arsallah, Maulavi Noor Kasim, Muhammad Amin, Mira Jan, and Bahram Jan, who are all from the Paktiya/Khost area. Local commanders’ lineage varies depending on the location and they receive some support from headquarters, but are required to raise their own money through "donations", taxes, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, and narco-trafficking. Notable local field commanders include Mullah Sangin (kidnapped a private from the 82nd Airborne) and Zakim Shah, the shadow governor of Khost, although they typically lack the apparatus to act as shadow governments. The network has a distant contact well to the north—Mullah Inayatullah in the Kunduz Province, who is also from the Zardan Tribe).
The network, which is known for its fairness and adherence to Pashtunwali, has acted as the mediator between many warring parties in the past several years (usually performed by Sirajuddin and Bakhti Jan). It helped negotiate a peace treaty between Pakistan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur in South Waziristan in 2006 and a peace treaty between the late Baitullah Mehsud and Pakistan in 2008. The network also negotiated a truce between Mullah Nazir and Uzbek foreigners in 2007 (Pashtuns tend to despise foreign fighters). And what may have been considered a stroke of political deftness, the network unified the rival militant groups led by Bahadur, Nazir, and Mehsud in the spring of 2009. A fatal drone strike on Mehsud in August 2009, however, destroyed the coalition.
Jalaluddin Haqqani was born around 1950 in Srani, Paktiya and lived near Khost until the Soviet invasion when he moved to Miram Shah, North Waziristan. He is from the Mezi Clan of the Zardan Tribe. He has (at least) two wives, one who is Pashtun and one who is Arab. Although he is close to bin Laden, who espouses extreme global views, his politics are somewhat progressive (by Pashtun standards), as he supports social and civil rights for women and a fair application of Pashtunwali (Pashtun tribal code). He was appointed Justice Minister by the mujahedeen in 1992 and was even offered the Prime Minster position by Hamid Karzai. It is rumored that he enjoys a closer relationship with bin Laden than Mullah Omar, which is surprising due to the wide divergence of political and social views between the two. This may be partially due to their shared experiences during the Soviet occupation when he helped build, staff, and protect bin Laden’s training camps in Paktiya and Nangarhar between 1986 and 2001. When he is not trying to kill Americans, he runs several madrassas (religious indoctrination schools) in and around Miram Shah.
Jalaluddin also enjoys a cozy relationship with Pakistan’s ISI, which provides him with weapons, money, intelligence, and a “heads up” any time the Pakistani army is about to raid one of his facilities. While he receives tremendous assistance from ISI, he is constantly being targeted by ISAF forces. He was badly wounded on November 13, 2001 in an airstrike and a good chunk of his family was killed (32 KIA) in a drone strike on September 8, 2008 near Dandi Darpa Khail, North Waziristan.
Jalaluddin has at least two brothers, Haji Khalil and Ibrahim, and at least five sons, Sirajuddin, Badruddin, Nasiruddin, Omar, and Mohammed. All of his sons travel to the Gulf to raise money, but Nasiruddin is half-Arab, thus making him an ideal liaison for al Qaeda and wealthy financial sponsors in the Gulf. Omar was killed by ISAF forces in Paktiya in July 2008 and Mohammed was killed in a Predator drone strike on February 18, 2010.
He has no strong tribal ties to North Waziristan, but enjoys tremendous respect throughout the FATA by both civilians and militants. Part of his popularity stems from his wisdom and sense of fairness. He is often called to mediate disputes between civilians and between rival militant groups in North and South Waziristan. But, because he has no local tribal ties, he does have rivals in North Waziristan, the most powerful of which is Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was born around 1979 and grew up in the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa near Peshawar, NWFP. He is considered more devout and radical than his father. His father is the leader of the network in name only as Sirajuddin oversees all political and military activities. He also serves as the official liaison with QST and al Qaeda. Sirajuddin’s deputy commander is Bakhti Jan and his political deputy is Jan Baz Zadran, who has no military experience. Notably, Bakhti Jan has close ties with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan, a militant group that is a sworn enemy of Pakistan.
**It will be interesting to see if Sirajuddin burns his bridges with Pakistan/ISI in favor of supporting the TTP.**
Sirajuddin enjoys a $5 million bounty on his head and is the frequent target of drone strikes.
**This is purely conjecture on my part, but it makes sense**
There is increasing evidence that the network is cooperating more with al Qaeda. The network facilitates suicide attacks in urban areas and al Qaeda provides the bodies. Although the relationship is “strained” because of Haqqani’s support of Pakistan (al Qaeda does not like Pakistan), there is evidence that the newer, younger members (who tend to be Arab and not Pashtun) definitely favor the global jihadist philosophy of al Qaeda. This can be observed in the closer military and financial cooperation between the two groups, the growing use of suicide attacks, and closer ties with the TTP in North and South Waziristan. The network also appears to be isolating itself from the QST based on its recent target list. The Taliban favors not attacking United Nations/international organizations in order to increase its “legitimacy” as an actual government, whereas the network has stepped up its attacks on international targets. And what strikes me most important, network members now spend all of their “down time” in madrassas rather than farming/working at home, which is typical fare for most Taliban members.
For some strange reason (well, not really since the US is a lackey to Pakistan), the Haqqani network has escaped the US State Department’s list of foreign terror groups. In May 2010, however, the “flaming liberal” Senator Diane Feinstein from California lobbied to place the group on the list.
January 2008-Bombing of Serena Hotel in Kabul
March 2008-Kidnapping of British journalist Sean Langan
April 2008—Asassination attempt on Hamid Karzai
July 2008—Bombing of Indian Embassy in Kabul
November 2008—Kidnapping of Time magazine journalist David Rohde
December 2009-Attack on Camp Chapman
May 2010-Sucide bombing in Kabul
The U.S. State Department finally designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, subject to sanctions under Executive Order 13224: