The Pentagon appeared to dispute earlier assessments of the Haqqani Network and the Taliban* Islamist group that now
as “separate entities”, by acknowledging on Saturday that there is “co-mingling” between the two.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, after initially displaying reluctance to offer a characterisation of the Taliban or Haqqani, was pressed by Fox News to respond to the fact that Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a $10 million bounty on his head, is deputy leader of the Taliban.
“We know that there is a certain amount of commingling here. I mean, there’s a marbling, if you will, of Taliban and Haqqani”, said Kirby.
A day earlier, State Department Press Secretary Ned Price described the Haqqani Network and the Taliban* as “separate entities”. When asked on Friday whether security coordination with the Taliban in Kabul extended to the Haqqani Network, Price responded by saying it did not.
The US has relied on the Taliban to maintain security checkpoints around Kabul’s airport amid the frantic evacuation effort and Thursday’s
deadly bomb blasts
outside Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 US service members and caused scores of Afghan casualties. Officials suspect the attack was carried out by Daesh*-K, a splinter group that is a Taliban rival. “The Taliban and the Haqqani Network are separate entities”, said Price, adding:
“The Haqqani Network is a designated terrorist organisation. We are not coordinating with the Haqqani Network”.
Later on Saturday, a State Department spokesperson was cited by Fox News as saying the
and the Taliban “are separate entities, but they are affiliated”.
“As we have said, any information sharing with the Taliban has been focused on very specific tactical threats around the airport and resolving specific problems around access to the airport. We have been clear about that level of coordination”, it was added.
‘Terrorists Wanted by US’
The Haqqani Network, closely linked to al Qaeda, was branded as a terrorist organisation by the US in 2012.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the “deputy emir” of the Taliban and founder of the Haqqani Network “currently leads the day-to-day activities of the Haqqani Network”, according to the State Department. Sirajuddin has been designated a terrorist by the US, and the State Department’s
Reward for Justice
programme has offered $10 million for his arrest.
REUTERS / STRINGER
He is credited with planning the 14 January 2008 attack against the Serena Hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including American citizen Thor David Hesla. He is also said to have masterminded an attempt to assassinate then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008, and coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Khalil Ur-Rahman Haqqani, the uncle of Sirajuddin Haqqani, has a $5 million bounty placed on his head by the US. He has been placed in charge of security in the capital after the Islamist militants seized the city in a culmination of their swift offensive to regain control of the country in the wake of
US and NATO forces.
REUTERS / US AIR FORCE
“I do not believe that anyone in the West fully understands the reach of the Haqqani network”, retired Lt. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, a former director of strategy for the National Counterterrorism Centre, was cited as saying by The Wall Street Journal on 26 August.
Former national security adviser to ex-president Donald Trump, retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was cited by the outlet as saying:
“The Haqqanis expose the lie that there is a line between Taliban and other jihadist groups, especially al Qaeda”.
*A terrorist organisation banned in Russia.