ISLAMABAD: Afghan and coalition forces have detained a key leader of the North Waziristan-based militant network blamed for fueling an increasingly deadly Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The militant leader belongs to the network, led by aging Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and his three sons, the Kabul-based Afghan Online Press (AOP) reported, without mentioning his name. However, CNN identified him as Nasiruddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
“He operates in the Afghan district of Sabari, in Khost province,” the AOP said. He is responsible for IED (improvised explosive device) attacks on the Afghan National Army and coalition forces in the province.
On December 21, security forces were tipped off about the presence of the Taliban leader and his comrades in a compound in Sabari district, the AOP said quoting a Nato press release. “They raided and secured the compound without resistance from people inside.”
Subsequently, security forces detained several people and seized a cache of firearms and ammunition. Later it transpired that they were militants from the Haqqani Network and one of them was a key leader.
However, CNN gave a different account of the arrest. “Nasiruddin Haqqani was detained while driving from Peshawar to the North Waziristan tribal region,” it said quoting Pakistani military intelligence sources. A western newspaper reported that Nasiruddin, whose jihadist pseudonym is Dr Khan, and his four companions, were arrested as they returned to Peshawar after performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The paper identified one of his companions as Mullah Muhammad Jan, a senior commander of the Haqqani Network.
Since December 1, Afghan and coalition forces have detained 25 leaders and facilitators and 107 foot soldiers of the Haqqani Network. And interestingly, all of these arrests were made without firing a single gunshot.
US officials believe that the Haqqani Network has been using its bases in North Waziristan as a springboard for violence in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Taliban, on the other hand, have denied the arrest of Nasiruddin Haqqani. “I don’t think the news report is correct,” a key figure in the Taliban insurgency told The Express Tribune by phone from an undisclosed location.
Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) also denied the report. “No person by the name of Nasiruddin Haqqani and Mullah Muhammad Jan has landed at the Peshawar airport from Gulf states during the last 10 days,” FIA Director in Peshawar Zaibullah told The Express Tribune.
Westerns media quoted Afghan Taliban sources as saying that Nasiruddin was a frequent visitor to Gulf States. And he used different Pakistani passports to travel abroad to collect cash donations to keep the Afghan insurgency going.
According to the United Nations, the Haqqani Network is believed to have three main sources of funds: Gulf region donations, drug trafficking, and al Qaeda payments.
“In 2004, (Nasiruddin) Haqqani traveled to Saudi Arabia with a Taliban associate to raise funds for the Taliban. He also provided funds in 2004 to militants in Afghanistan for the purpose of disrupting the Afghan presidential election.
“From at least 2005 to 2008, Nasiruddin Haqqani collected funds for the Haqqani Network through various fundraising trips, including during regular travel to the United Arab Emirates in 2007 and through a fundraising trip to another Gulf state in 2008,” the United Nations said.
And late last year, Nasiruddin Haqqani “received several hundred thousand dollars from al Qaeda-associated individuals in the Arabian Peninsula” for network activities.
Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department cited Nasiruddin Haqqani for supporting acts of terrorism. His brother Sirajuddin Haqqani was designated a supporter of terrorism in 2008.
(With additional input from News Desk)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2010.
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