by Abdullah Qazi / September 18, 2008
Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of the most important Taliban military commanders fighting against the Afghan government, and US forces in Afghanistan. He is seen by some analysts as the main engine in the Taliban movement. He is aligned with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as well as secretly with Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). The Pakistani government denies the relationship their spy agency has with Haqqani, however, the evidence clearly shows that the ISI is secretly working with various Taliban leaders to weaken and eventually destroy the US backed government in Kabul. In fact, Haqqani’s relationship with the ISI goes way back to the Afghan-Soviet war. Back then, Haqqani was a favorite of both the ISI, the Saudis and interestingly enough, the CIA. In fact, he received an extraordinary share of the CIA and Saudi funded weapons that were shipped to the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union and their puppet Communist government in Afghanistan. Peter Tomsen, who served as the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992 referred to Haqqani as “our client” and that the CIA was responsible for building his capacity.
Haqqani first started out as a member and commander under Yunis Khalis‘ Hezb-e-Islami. He gained a reputation for being a diehard fighter, and impressed ISI officials who were very active amongst the various Mujahidden groups during the Soviet war. Soon, Haqqani became the ISI’s man, and they provided a safe haven for him in Pakistan. ISI officials would devise strategies or battle plans and Haqqani would simply execute them. In 1991, with extensive help from the ISI, he became the first Mujahideen commander to capture a city, Khost, from Dr. Najibullah’s government. After Dr. Najibullah’s government finally fell in 1992 to the forces of Ahmad Shah Masood, and a Mujahideen government was setup, Haqqani was appointed as the country’s Justice Minister.
Haqqani joins the Taliban
The Pakistanis were not happy with the structure of the new Mujahideen government and wanted one of their own to lead and control Afghanistan’s policy with Pakistan. They first tried with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and after that failed, they created the Taliban in 1994. In 1995, the Pakistanis persuaded Jalaluddin Haqqani to surrender to the Taliban and in 1996 after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Haqqani became their top military commander north of Kabul. In this role, he led numerous brutal assaults not only against Ahmad Shah Masood’s forces, but also against the civilian population. He destroyed much of the Shamali Plain north of Kabul, burning down houses and farmlands, and was even accused of systematically targeting and killing innocent Farsi speaking members of the population. He was rewarded by the Taliban for his successes by appointing him as Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs. He held on to this position until the Taliban were removed from power in late 2001.
Haqqani and Osama bin Laden
Haqqani is close with Osama bin Laden and has had a long relationship with him that goes back to the Afghan-Soviet war. Haqqani protected Osama bin Laden, and even helped him to establish a fighting force in Afghanistan. He is believed to have also played a role in helping bin Laden escape from Afghanistan and into Pakistan when Afghan and American forces came looking for him in late 2001.
Haqqani was born in 1950, and has has two wives – one Afghan and the other is an Arab. His Arab wife is believed to be living in the United Arab Emirates. Haqqani is fluent in Arabic. His son, Sirajuddin Haqqani is also active in the war against the US backed Afghan government. Sirajuddin has also played a major role in coordinating and leading the Pakistani Taliban in their battles against the Pakistani troops in Waziristan. Many experts believe that the Pakistanis are not really serious in their “war” against the so called Pakistani Taliban, it is just a show for the United States.
Now Haqqani has become the second most important figure in the Taliban, second only to Mullah Omar himself. He has even been credited with introducing suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The story today goes that the Americans have tried unsuccessfully to get him to change sides and go against Mullah Omar. They have offered him cabinet posts in Hamid Karzai’s government, the Prime Minister role, and have even resorted to kidnapping members of his family and throwing them in jail so they can use them as leverage. The Pakistanis are playing a game with the Americans by pretending to go against Haqqani. They are thinking long term. They believe that if one day, the Americans decide to abandon Afghanistan, Haqqani would be used to take over Kabul, especially since much of the forces that were under the control of the now deceased Ahmad Shah Masood are disarmed. Recent events and actions taken by the American forces indicate that the Americans are aware of Pakistan’s game, and while they don’t admit it in the open, they have decided to go it alone (without Pakistan) in their fight against what they now call the Haqqani Network.