Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy chief of the Taliban and head of the semi-independent Haqqani network, a terrorist group notorious for its discipline and violence in Afghanistan.
Haqqani is also the head of the Taliban’s military strategy and was appointed head of security in Kabul after militants took over the city last week.
His exact age is not clear, but he would have been born in Afghanistan or Pakistan between 1973 and 1980, according to the FBI, which placed him on its list of the most wanted and offers a reward of 5 million dollars.
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He is the top leader of the Haqqani Network, which the United States designated as a terrorist group in 2012 and which has been linked to bombings, kidnappings and other attacks.
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Haqqani also maintains close ties with al-Qaeda.
His father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded their namesake jihadist group and ceded management before his death in 2018 at age 71. The father had been paralyzed for a decade by then. But in the 1980s, the elder Haqqani was among the United States-backed Mujahedin warlords battling an invasion of the Soviet Union and was a close friend and mentor of assassinated Al Qaeda terrorist Osama. bin Laden, according to the US director of the National Intelligence Counterterrorism Guide.
“The Haqqanis are considered the deadliest and most sophisticated insurgent group targeting US, coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan,” according to the DNI report. “They usually carry out coordinated assaults with small arms coupled with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide bombings and attacks using vehicles loaded with bombs.”
US officials have blamed the Haqqani Network for many high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including the 2011 attack on the Kabul International Hotel and a pair of suicide bombings at the Indian embassy. The group also attacked the United States Embassy in Kabul in 2011 and is charged with “the largest truck bomb ever built”, a 61,500-pound device intercepted by Afghan security forces in 2013.
In February 2020, young Haqqani wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, saying he was “convinced that the killings and mutilations must stop.” The newspaper identified him as “the deputy chief of the Taliban” but sidelined his post as head of a terrorist group.
Even after the newspaper received criticism for the editorial, including from within its own newsroom, the author’s blurb attached to the editorial still made no mention of his links to terrorism when it came to terrorism. ‘he was consulted on Thursday.
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“We are on the verge of signing an agreement with the United States and we are fully committed to implementing each of its provisions, in letter and in spirit,” he wrote at the time.
These provisions included an agreement that the Taliban would not allow terrorist groups like Al Qaeda to operate outside Afghanistan as they did before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that sparked the state-led invasion. -United.
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“The Haqqanis speak out against the lie that there is a dividing line between the Taliban and other jihadist groups, especially al-Qaeda,” retired Lieutenant General HR McMaster, an adviser, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. to national security in the Trump era.
Since 2008, Sirajuddin Haqqani has been wanted for questioning in connection with a bomb attack on a hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including an American. He is also believed to have coordinated and participated in attacks against US and Allied forces in Afghanistan and to have played a role in the failed assassination attempt of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
He has a long list of aliases, according to the FBI: Siraj, Khalifa, Mohammad Siraj, Sarajadin, Cirodjiddin, Seraj, Arkani, Khalifa (Boss) Shahib, Halifa, Ahmed Zia, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, Siraj Haqqani, Serajuddin Haqani, Siraj Haqani and Saraj Haqani.
And he is not the only member of the Haqqani network to have influence within the Taliban.
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Sirajuddin Haqqani’s younger brother Anas Haqqani was released as part of a 2019 prisoner swap that also saw the release of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, held hostage by fighters Taliban for more than three years. He then led a Taliban delegation to meet with former officials of the overthrown Afghan government earlier this month.
After the Taliban seized Kabul last week, Haqqani’s uncle Khalil Haqqani delivered a public address at the city’s largest mosque – receiving cheers in response, according to the New York Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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