Maulawi Jalaluddin Haqqani (1939 – 3 September 2018) was an Afghan leader of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group fighting in guerilla warfare against US-led NATO forces, and the present government of Afghanistan they support. He distinguished himself as an internationally sponsored insurgent fighter in the 1980s during the Soviet–Afghan War, including Operation Magistral. He earned U.S. praise and was called "goodness personified" by the U.S. officials. US officials have admitted that during the Soviet-Afghan war he was a prized asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan called Jalaluddin Haqqani a "freedom fighter" during the Soviet-Afghan war. By 2004, he was directing pro-Taliban militants to launch a holy war in Afghanistan. In 2016, Lieutenant General John W. Nicholson Jr. claimed that the U.S. and NATO were not targeting Haqqani's network in Afghanistan.
Media reports emerged in late July 2015 that Haqqani had died the previous year. According to the reports he died in Afghanistan and was buried in Khost province of Afghanistan. These reports were denied by the Taliban and some members of the Haqqani family.
On 3 September 2018, the Taliban released a statement announcing that Haqqani had died after a long illness in Afghanistan.
Haqqani was born, the son of a wealthy landowner and trader, in 1939 in the village of Karezgay in the Zadran district of Paktia Province, Afghanistan, though the family later moved to Sultankhel. He was an ethnic Pashtun from the Zadran tribe of Khost. He undertook advanced religious studies at the Dar-al-'Ulam Haqqaniya Deobandi seminary in 1964 and was graduated which entitled him to the status of mawlawi in Peshawar in 1970. After King Zahir Shah's exile and President Daoud Khan rise to power in 1973, the political situation in Afghanistan was slowly beginning to change. A number of parties such as the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and others were seeking power. Haqqani was one of them, and after being suspected of plotting against the government he went into exile and based himself in and around Miranshah, Pakistan. From there he began to organise a rebellion against the government of Daoud Khan in 1975. After the 1978 Marxist revolution by the PDPA, Haqqani joined the Hezb-i Islami of Mawlawi Mohammad Yunus Khalis.
In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a "unilateral" asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet-led Afghan forces in Afghanistan, according to an account in The Bin Ladens, a 2008 book by Steve Coll. He reputedly attracted generous support from prosperous Arab countries compared to other resistance leaders. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight Soviet-backed Afghanistan.
The influential U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, who helped to direct tens of millions of dollars to the Afghan Islamists, was so taken by Haqqani that he referred to him as "goodness personified". Charles Wilson also desired to fire a Stinger missile at one of the Soviet helicopters. Haqqani was happy to make Charles Wilson's wartime fantasy come true. They dragged chains and tires on road to create dust cloud which will attract the Soviet helicopters. However, none of the Soviet helicopters came and Charles Wilson was unable to fire any missile. This episode highlights the type of relationship which U.S. officials and Haqqani network used to share. He was a key US and Pakistani ally in resisting the Soviet-backed Afghanistan. Some news media outlets report that Haqqani even received an invitation to, and perhaps even visited, President Ronald Reagan's White House, although the photographs used to support the allegation of such a meeting have cast doubt that Haqqani ever visited the US. (The pictures originally purporting to show this meeting are, in fact, of Mohammad Yunus Khalis.)
During the rule of Najibullah in 1991, Haqqani captured the city of Khost, which became the first communist city to fall to the jihadis. After the fall of Kabul to the Mujahideen forces in 1992, he was appointed Justice Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, and refrained from taking sides in the fratricidal conflict that broke out between Afghan factions during the 1990s, a neutrality that was to earn him respect.
Relations with the Taliban
Haqqani was not originally a member of the Taliban; in 1995, just prior to the Taliban's occupation of Kabul, he switched his allegiance to them. In 1996–97, he served as a Taliban military commander north of Kabul, and was accused of ethnic cleansing against local Tajik populations. During the Taliban government, he served as the Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs and governor of Paktia Province.
In October 2001, Haqqani was named the Taliban's military commander. He may have had a role in expediting the escape of Osama Bin Laden. Initially the Americans tried to convince him to turn against the Taliban. He refused their offers on the grounds that, as a Muslim, he was duty-bound to resist them, as "infidel invaders" just as he had the Soviets in earlier decades. His base in Khost was attacked and four Guantanamo detainees—Abib Sarajuddin, Khan Zaman, Gul Zaman and Mohammad Gul—were captured and held because American intelligence officials received a report that one of them had briefly hosted Haqqani shortly after the fall of the Taliban.
A September 2008 airstrike which allegedly targeted Haqqani, resulted in the deaths of between ten and twenty-three people. The US missile strike hit the house of Haqqani in the village Dandi Darpa Khail in North Waziristan and a close by seminary. The madrasah, however, was closed and Haqqani had previously left the area. Haqqani has been accused by the United States of involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul and the February 2009 Kabul raids.
Role in the Taliban insurgency
Haqqani was the commander, with his son Sirajuddin, of the Haqqani network. The network is made up of resistance forces waging a jihad against US-led NATO forces and the Islamic republic of Afghanistan. On 16 October 2011, "Operation Knife Edge" was launched by NATO and Afghan forces against the Haqqani network in south-eastern Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, explained that the operation will "help eliminate the insurgents before they struck in areas along the troubled frontier". Both he and his son, Sirajuddin appear to have been the first Taliban to adopt the Iraqi tactic of using suicide bombers, and their network is accused of engaging in kidnappings, beheadings, the killing of women, and assassinations. George Gittoes, the Australian maker of Pashto-language films at his Yellow House in Jalalabad says Haqqani, who has befriended him, would be ready to support Ashraf Ghani in future Afghan elections.
Haqqani was fluent in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and his native Pashto language. He had at least seven sons:
- Sirajuddin Haqqani – He currently leads the day-to-day activities of the Haqqani network.
- Badruddin Haqqani – He was an operational commander of the network. He was killed in a US drone strike on 24 August 2012 in North Waziristan. Badruddin was targeted and killed by US forces for planning and directing the deadly suicidal VBED operation which was carried out in south Kabul on May 18, 2010. The attack killed 5 American and 1 Canadian service members, as well as a dozen or more Afghan civilians who were innocently going about their own business along the road.
- Nasiruddin Haqqani – He was a key financier and emissary of the network. As the son of Jalaluddin's Arab wife, he spoke fluent Arabic and traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for fundraising. He was killed by unknown assailants in Bhara Kahu, in the eastern part of the Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan, on 11 November 2013.
- Mohammed Haqqani – He was a military commander of the network and was killed in a US drone strike on 18 February 2010 in North Waziristan.
- Omar Haqqani – He was killed leading Haqqani Network fighters during a US military operation in Khost province in July 2008.
- Aziz Haqqani – Senior member of the network.
- Anas Haqqani – Senior member of the network. He was arrested on 15 October 2014 by the Afghan forces, and sentenced to death in 2016. He was released in a prisoner swap in November 2019.
On 3 September 2018, the Taliban released a statement via Twitter proclaiming Haqqani's death of an unspecified terminal illness in Afghanistan. He was buried in Afghanistan.
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Reports quoted Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Mallik saying, “The network’s aging leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a respected commander and key US and Pakistani ally in resisting the Soviet Union after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Haqqani even visited President Ronald Reagan at the White House.”
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Haqqani then was much younger and had a thick black beard. The evidence suggests he had never been to the US. He certainly was a well-known mujahideen commander of the Hezb-e-Islami (Khalis) — a party led by Maulvi Yunis Khalis, and had a status equal to another famous commander Ahmad Shah Masood. But Haqqani does not figure among the Afghan mujahideen leaders known to have been invited to the White House in Washington and hosted by President Reagan.
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More recently, an image of a bearded man wearing a substantial white turban and a brown blazer standing next to former US President Ronald Reagan was reprinted in many Pakistani dailies as an image of Reagan with the notorious Afghan militant Jalaluddin Haqqani. But Haqqani has never visited the US. The picture, is in fact of an Afghan mujahideen commander called Younis Khalis.
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Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Gul Zaman's Combatant Status Review Tribunal -
mirror - pages 39–53
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- ^ "Senior Haqqani Network leader killed near Islamabad". The Express Tribune. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
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