Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s interior Minister, head of the Haqqani Network and a declared terrorist surfaced under media glare for the first time in Afghanistan. The United States has listed Sirajuddin Haqqani as one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. Sirajuddin Haqqani did not come out in the open even after Taliban took power. Haqqani is accused of being responsible for several terrorist attacks.
However, recently Sirajuddin Haqqani attended a passing out parade of the new Afghan police officers and addressed the ceremony. “I have come here for your trust and consolation,” said Haqqani. His faded photograph has been listed on America’s most wanted list. At this event of Afghan police Haqqani was clearly visible for the very first time. Diplomatic representatives of several countries, including the Pakistani ambassador, were present at the event.
He was the leader of a group of Talibans accused of the worst violence in 20 years. The United States has offered a 10 million dollar reward for information leading to his capture.
Sirajuddin Haqqani took over the leadership of his group in 2018 after the death of his father. He is accused of attacking the Serena Hotel in Kabul in 2008, killing at least six people. He is also accused of plotting to assassinate former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. A statement from the US Rewards for Justice Program said he had close ties with the al-Qaeda and had been designated a global terrorist. He was repeatedly targeted by US drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But he managed to escape. Sirajuddin Haqqani and his network is not only a product of the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI but has also been used by the Pakistani military and ISI as a proxy in the region, including Afghanistan. Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, sources said that Sirajuddin was under high security umbrella in Pakistan to protect him from NATO and the United States.
Talks were also held between Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Khost province of Afghanistan under the mediation of Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani. The future of TTP has become a major issue in Islamabad since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not yet commented on the matter, but according to Pakistani Taliban sources, contacts were made between the Pakistani government and Taliban in March.
According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) carried out 95 attacks in the country last year, killing at least 140 people, and 44 more in the first six months of this year.
Sirajuddin Haqqani is the Taliban’s interior minister and commander of the Haqqani Network, which is headquartered in the tribal areas of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan and is on the US’ “most wanted list”. Sirajuddin Haqqani is on a UN blacklist of terrorists, and the US State Department has offered a reward of up to US$ 500,000 for information leading to his capture, and 10 million dollars reward.
Prior to the Taliban’s return to Kabul, Haqqani was the most senior of the three deputies of Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. The media appearance of Haqqani also shows that since taking power on 15 August, the Taliban have become more confident about their grip on the country.
The Haqqani Network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani in the 1970s, which was supported by the CIA during the Mujahideen’s war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which was strategically operated by the ISI.
The FBI’s Rewards for Justice program says it maintains a “close relationship” with al Qaeda, and is a “specially designated global terrorist”. He has reportedly been the target of several US drone strikes in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The ISI is said to have played a key role in making the Haqqani network stronger and more effective, and the Pakistani intelligence agency has a hand in making Sirajuddin Haqqani Interior Minister so that it can maintain its control in Afghanistan. It should be noted that this is the first time that the Afghan government has released photos of the Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.
Despite the Afghan Taliban’s deal with the United States, links between the Taliban and the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, particularly the Haqqani network, remain intact.