A senior member of the Haqqani Network – the deadliest of all Afghan Taliban factions – was killed in a drive-by shooting in the suburbs of the federal capital on Sunday night.
Dr Nasiruddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of Haqqani Network, was shot dead by gunmen riding motorcycles in front of a naan (bread) shop. The incident took place on Simly Dam Road, 200 metres from Bhara Kahu police station around 8:30pm on Sunday.
The body was removed before the local police reached the scene. “We cannot confirm that it was Nasiruddin Haqqani because we haven’t seen the body,” a senior police official said. He said the body was immediately driven away in a Toyota Land Cruiser. Nasiruddin was believed to be in his 40s.
However, tribal sources confirmed the slain man was Nasiruddin. “I can confirm that Dr Nasir has been martyred,” a Pakistani militant, who had previously worked with the Haqqani Network, confirmed to The Express Tribune.
The body was immediately taken to North Waziristan Agency. “Dr Nasir’s body was later sent to Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, for burial,” a Haqqani Network member said. Family sources said Nasiruddin was buried in North Waziristan, where his father has built a huge religious school.
Nasiruddin came under fire as he disembarked from his SUV and started walking towards the naan shop, police said quoting eyewitnesses. The shopkeeper also suffered gunshot wounds. “The gunmen checked Nasiruddin’s pulse to make sure he was dead before fleeing the scene,” said a police official quoting eyewitnesses.
His driver, who was standing at a distance, shifted the body to the vehicle and drove it to his residence in Shahpur, a rural area on the outskirts of the city. Residents of Shahpur said they had seen Nasiruddin and some other men moving in and out of a house every few weeks.
Nasiruddin was known to be the group’s main fundraiser and the contact person between foreign ‘donors’ and Taliban supporters.
A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also confirmed the death and vowed to take revenge, while accusing the country’s premier intelligence agency of killing him. “Nasiruddin Haqqani has been martyred by ISI,” TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid told AFP. “He was killed because he bravely supported Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud.”
Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security, also confirmed Nasiruddin’s death but blamed it on an ‘internal conflict’. It did not give further details.
Nasiruddin was responsible for fundraising, logistics and political affairs of the Haqqani Network, tribal sources said. “He was also in charge of the network’s foreign affairs on the special instructions of his father,” a leader of the network told The Express Tribune. He had been dealing with the group’s peace process when the Taliban engaged in dialogue from time to time.
The Haqqanis have been blamed for spectacular attacks on Afghan government and Nato targets across Afghanistan, as well as for kidnappings and murders. The United States put the Haqqani Network on its terror blacklist in September 2012 and the Pentagon said the group represented a ‘significant threat’ to national security.
Nasiruddin is the fourth son of Jalaluddin to have been killed in fighting and US drone attacks. His brother, Badruddin Haqqani, died in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan in August last year. Another brother Muhammad Haqqani, 22, was also killed in an American drone attack in North Waziristan in 2009, while Umer Haqqani, the youngest of all brothers, died in fighting in Afghanistan in 2008. He was 17.
No one claimed responsibility for the assassination of Nasiruddin.
Some Pakistani television channels reported that Nasiruddin was, in fact, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Afghan Taliban’s chief spokesperson, who regularly fed news to local and international media. However, another Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf denied the media reports. “He was not Zabihullah Mujahid,” he told The Express Tribune in a text message.
Nasiruddin had been deeply involved in the Taliban’s Qatar peace process and had also visited Doha after the Taliban opened a ‘political office’ in June, a Qatar-based Taliban negotiator told The Express Tribune by phone.
“He was in Qatar days after the office was opened but was not a regular member of the dialogue process,” he added. “He used to visit the UAE to share with Taliban leaders his suggestions and to keep himself abreast of the dialogue process.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2013.