Karas 1 Rachel Karas Afghanistan: Conflict & Society Professor Akram 10/15/12 Haqqanis as Terrorists: Short-Term Effects and Long
-Term Implications for the U.S/AfPak Triangle When American troops first entered Afghanistan in 2001, George W. Bush‟s “War on Terror” may have dictated a simplistic path: take revenge on al-Qaeda while pitting all others either “with us or against us.”1 In the decade that followed, however, it became increasingly clear that al-Qaeda was not the only entity within Afghanistan that opposed the U.S., nor could American involvement operate independently of other governments in the region. Now at a pivotal time of troop drawdown and casualty milestones in Afghanistan, American and international military forces are struggling to contain an increasingly deadly threat: the Haqqani network. In the most recent attempt to multilaterally fight the Haqqanis, the U.S. State Department officially designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in early September 2012. Formal terrorist designation may bolster the American cause, but may also hinder regional diplomacy when it is most needed. The Islamist Haqqani network, a fundamentalist, extremist “organized militia using highprofile terrorist attacks on hotels, embassies and other targets to advance its agenda to become a power broker in a future political settlement,” is believed to be responsible for the most destructive attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in recent years.2 Compounded with alleged ties to Pakistan‟s spy agency, it poses the most significant obstacle to achieving regional stability and positive diplomacy between the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan. As the New York Times wrote in 2011:
Bush, George W. “Address to Joint Session of Congress.” U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. 20 Sept. 2001. Address. New York Times Co. “Haqqani Network.” Times Topics | Haqqani Network. The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
Karas 2 “They are the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war, a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking. They have trafficked in precious gems, stolen lumber and demanded protection money from businesses building roads and schools with American reconstruction funds. They safeguard their mountainous turf by planting deadly roadside bombs and shelling remote American military bases. And they are accused by American officials of being guns for hire: a proxy force used by the Pakistani intelligence service to carry out grisly, high-profile attacks in Kabul and throughout the country.”3 The network first rose to prominence under the leadership of Jalaluddin Haqqani in the 1970s, using Pakistani and Saudi intelligence ties to establish connections with resistance fighters and financial backers throughout South Asia and the Gulf. 4 The Afghan patriarch Jalaluddin became a favorite of both the U.S. and Pakistani governments as well as of benefactors throughout the Arab world for his fighting and ability to effectively organize mujahedeen fighters against the Soviets in the 1980s. The Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) passed U.S. Central Intelligence Agency funds and weaponry to Haqqani fighters, fueling the anti-Soviet resistance.5 This enabled the network to expand, keeping intact its own pecuniary and ideological interests as well as ISI contacts, but diverging from the U.S. after the Cold War. Jalaluddin later became the Minister of Tribal Affairs in the Taliban government in 1996, but left for Pakistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion.6 The family-based network is currently headed by Jalaluddin‟s sons Sirajuddin and Nasiruddin and their uncle Ibrahim, and operates out of Pakistani tribal areas of North Waziristan, bordered with the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika
Mazzetti, Mark, Scott Shane, and Alissa J. Rubin. “Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan.” The New York Times 24 Sept. 2011: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. 4 Dressler, Jeffrey. The Haqqani Network: A Foreign Terrorist Organization. Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. 5 New York Times Co. “Haqqani Network.” Times Topics | Haqqani Network. The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. 6 Dressler, Jeffrey. The Haqqani Network: A Foreign Terrorist Organization. Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.
Karas 3 (though Sirajuddin says they have moved inside Afghanistan).78 Border areas controlled by the Pakistani military are largely porous, allowing for largely fluid movement between countries to smuggle goods and facilitate kidnappings and other forms of extortion – a phenomenon, U.S. intelligence believes, is a product of Pakistan‟s partnership with the network. The Haqqani family is mainly based in Dande Darpakhel, north of the North Waziristan capital of Miram Shah. Miram Shah itself is a “ministate with courts, tax offices and radical madrasa schools producing a ready supply of fighters,” according to the New York Times.9 While the two are a frequent target of missile and drones, U.S. forces are hesitant to strike for fear of hitting compounds with women and children. The Haqqani network was estimated to include anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan as of September 2011, whereas Sirajuddin claims the number is much higher than 10,000.1011 Though the U.S. refers to the Haqqanis as a separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, alleged Taliban statements online maintain Jalaluddin Haqqani and his followers are members of the the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.12 The Haqqanis‟ early creation of a vast and powerful financial network was the key to establishment and regeneration of militant operations, laying the foundation of monetary viability for waging war that continues to the present day. According to Dressler, the Haqqanis had created fundraising offices in the Persian Gulf and an assistance program for Gulf-based
Ibid. Khan, M. Ilyas. “The Afghan-Pakistan Militant Nexus.” BBC News. BBC, 6 June 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. 9 New York Times Co. “Haqqani Network.” Times Topics | Haqqani Network. The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. 10 Ibid. 11 Reuters. “„No Sanctuaries in Pakistan‟: Haqqani Network Shifts Base to Afghanistan.” The Express Tribune. The Express Tribune News Network, 18 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. 12 Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban). Afghanistan. Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding America Using Name of Conjured Entity „Haqqani Network‟ and Its Black Listing. Voice of Jihad. Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, 8 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
Karas 4 donors by 1980.13 This allowed them to raise money and awareness to fight the communist coup a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as give immediate operational support to other militant groups battling the Soviets. Because of these financial ties with the Arab world, Jalaluddin Haqqani was able to connect with sponsors also active in resistance like Osama bin Laden – an ideologically aligned relationship that would deepen over the course of the next few decades.14 Bin Laden and al-Qaeda reaped the benefits of Haqqani safe havens and resources in exchange for personnel and financial support, codependence that evolved into mutual hatred and joint efforts against foreign forces in Afghanistan. This business empire has evolved to include both licit and illicit means of revenue, using car dealerships, real estate agencies, import-export operations and construction companies in Pakistan to launder money throughout the organization. The family also controls at least two factories making ammonium nitrate used to build roadside bombs in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.15 Running protection rackets for contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan also provides a steady flow of money, coercing construction firms into safety from the same attacks the group perpetuates. It is also believed that these business operations contribute to the ISI‟s seeming “don‟t ask, don‟t tell” policy toward the Haqqanis through “inextricable ties” with Pakistan‟s military-industrial complex.16 As long as the network is not targeting Pakistani citizens, can redirect Pakistani terrorist cells toward Afghanistan, and their companies contribute in part to the country‟s economy, they may operate as they see fit. The same coercion tactics of bribery and promised protection may influence border guards to turn a blind eye to inter-country smuggling operations as well.
Dressler, Jeffrey. The Haqqani Network: A Foreign Terrorist Organization. Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 Siddiqa, Ayesha. Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy. London: Pluto, 2007. Print.
Karas 5 Attacks on American and international forces, either directly attributable to or believed to have been connected to the Haqqani network, have risen in frequency and fatality in the past five years. U.S. officials say the Haqqanis are responsible for one-tenth of attacks on ISAF troops and 15 percent of casualties, the New York Times reported.17 “According to a senior American military official, cross-border attacks by the Haqqanis into Afghanistan have increased more than fivefold this year over the same period a year ago, and roadside bomb attacks are up 20 percent compared with last year,” a September 2011 Times article said.18 Haqqani-linked attacks are characterized by delivering instructions via telephone during the mission, utilizing multiple fighters and targeting symbols of the Afghan government and Western influence. They are also commonly credited with beginning the widespread use of suicide bombing tactics throughout the region. Since 2008, the Haqqanis have been thought responsible for several major operations against Westerners in Afghanistan: Serena Hotel in Kabul in January 2008 – six were killed and six wounded when three militants detonated a car bomb and a suicide vest at the hotel while shooting several with AK-47s.19 Kabul in May 2010 – the deadliest attack against ranking officers in the Afghanistan War, 18 were killed and 52 wounded when a Taliban militant‟s suicide car bomb attacked a NATO convoy. U.S. intelligence suspects Haqqani involvement despite Taliban taking responsibility for the attack.20
New York Times Co. “Haqqani Network.” Times Topics | Haqqani Network. The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. 18 Mazzetti, Mark, Scott Shane, and Alissa J. Rubin. “Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan.” The New York Times 24 Sept. 2011: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. 19 Fantz, Ashley, and Tim Lister. “The Haqqani Network, a Family and a Terror Group.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. 20 Stanford University. “Haqqani Network.” Mapping Militant Organizations. Stanford University, 23 July 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Karas 6 Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011 – at least seven died during a suicide bombing and gun battle ahead of a conference on transition amongst Afghan officials.21 Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in Wardak province on Sept. 10, 2011 – five Afghans were killed and 94 wounded (including 77 U.S. soldiers) by a truck bomb detonation.22 U.S. Embassy and NATO bases on Sept. 12, 2011 – Eleven were killed and 23 injured when Haqqani operatives attacked the international bases with rocketpropelled grenades and guns.23 Camp Salerno in June 2012 – two Americans were killed during a suicide truck bombing at the U.S. base in southern Afghanistan.24 Haqqani forces also have custody of U.S. infantryman Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, kidnapped in June 2009.25 Despite the series of attacks in the last half-decade, American efforts to kill Haqqani leaders with drone strike have been mostly unsuccessful, and reconciliation talks between the U.S. and ISI to end the Afghan War – such as the “Fight, Talk, Build” initiative in October 2011 – failed to bring the Haqqani Network and Taliban to the table for serious negotiations.26 Largely because of this U.S. military incapability to adequately address and reduce the threats posed by the Haqqanis, Congress and the State Department moved to formally designate
Fantz, Ashley, and Tim Lister. “The Haqqani Network, a Family and a Terror Group.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. 22 Stanford University. “Haqqani Network.” Mapping Militant Organizations. Stanford University, 23 July 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. 23 Ibid. 24 New York Times Co. “Haqqani Network.” Times Topics | Haqqani Network. The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid.
Karas 7 the network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This comes at a particularly crucial point in the Afghanistan War, as an attempt to curb Haqqani operations via less conventional, nonmilitary channels during the international troop drawdown. Currently, 50 organizations are recognized by the U.S. as foreign terrorist entities, consequently receiving the sanctions the designation accords.27 Under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended in 2004), a group is required to fulfill three criteria for FTO designation: 1. “It must be a foreign organization. 2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity … or terrorism … or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism. 3. The organization‟s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.”28 Once an organization is listed as an FTO, a number of legal and societal ramifications are designed to hinder the group‟s financial and operational growth. First, any U.S. citizen may not knowingly give “material support or resources” other than medicine or religious items to a recognized terrorist group. This denotes both tangible and intangible goods, services and currency, including (but not limited to) munitions, transportation or instruction on a specific skill. In the case of the Haqqanis, this blocks American investors and supporters from contributing to its financial network or directly enabling its personnel by penalty of imprisonment.29 Next, those affiliated with the FTO are no longer allowed into the U.S. and may be removed under certain circumstances defined by U.S. Code. Likewise, any American financial institution
“Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid.
Karas 8 with possession of or control over FTO-linked funds must keep control over the funds and report them to the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control.30 According to the State Department, other effects of designation include “supporting our efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same; stigmatizing and isolating designated terrorist organizations internationally; deterring donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations; heightening public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations; and signaling to other governments our concern about named organizations.”31 The Obama Administration has hailed the designation as an effective step toward lessening violence in Afghanistan as the 2014 pullout deadline draws closer. “We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States‟ resolve to degrade the organization‟s ability to execute violent attacks,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her report to Congress Sept. 7.32 The Pentagon concurred, with a spokesman saying it would ''‟degrade the network's capacity to carry out attacks, including affecting fund-raising abilities, targeting them with our military and intelligence resources, and pressing Pakistan to take action.‟”33 Pakistani officials have largely avoided comment, maintaining that the Haqqanis are not connected to the government. The only official response thus far has come from the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. “This is an internal matter for the United States,” the embassy said. “It
Ibid. Ibid. 32 U.S. Department of State. Secretary of State. Statement to Congress on the Haqqani Network. Department of State. Department of State, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. 33 U.S. Department of Defense. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). Statement by George Little on the Haqqani Network. U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. Department of Defense, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Karas 9 is not our business. The Haqqanis are not Pakistani nationals. We will continue to work with all international partners including the U.S. in combating extremism and terrorism.”34 The Taliban, however, have openly mocked the United States for what they believe is an inane and mistaken attempt to divide the enemy, saying there is no separate entity or network by the name of Haqqani. In a statement released on a website connected to a Twitter account U.S. intelligence believes to be a Taliban fighter, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan called the designation part of the same failing American narrative that will have no effect on their operations, only further provoking Muslim anger:
“The Islamic Emirate does not place any value in the black and white lists of the enemy even though these ineffective pronouncements began some fourteen years ago,” the statement said. “This latest announcement will also be ineffective and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns it. The Islamic Emirate does not have any trade agreements with any American companies or individuals and neither does it have monetary funds there which could be frozen. This cowardly act of yours in which you enter Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate into your so-called black list is indicative of your complete defeat and dismay. This step will never weaken the determination of our nation and Mujahideen but it shall further strengthen them and its bitter and heavy burden shall hang from the neck of America.”35 Supporters of the designation say it will be an effective next step from the U.S.‟ previously adding individual members of the Haqqani network to the terrorist list. Dressler argues that designating the Haqqanis as an FTO will eliminate the problem of individuals transferring assets, instead impairing the international fundraising and business efforts by preventing second- and third- party institutions from doing business with the network.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Press. Official Response regarding Haqqani Network News. Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Sherry Rehman, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. 35 Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban). Afghanistan. Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding America Using Name of Conjured Entity „Haqqani Network‟ and Its Black Listing. Voice of Jihad. Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, 8 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
Karas 10 “Targeting financial nodes, actors and organizations that provide the network with its global financial resources will allow the United States to attack the Haqqanis‟ entire business model, not just the individual businesses it owns and operates,” Dressler writes. “A well-coordinated and aggressive campaign … would increase their costs of doing business, reduce access to capital, and squeeze the network‟s financial resources, thereby limiting their freedom to operate in a local, regional, and international context.”36 An added benefit, many say, is the message blacklisting sends to the Pakistani government – that America will not tolerate terrorist organizations or those who enable them to operate, directly or indirectly.37 Yet the Pakistan connection is what opponents believe will imperil future negotiations and U.S. ties with the region. U.S. intelligence‟s belief that the ISI enables the Haqqanis could lead to designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism as well – a move that would all but destroy the already shaky alliance. Choosing to recognize the Haqqani network as an entity separate from the Taliban could prove problematic in peace talks as well, when the U.S. would then have to reach a consensus with more people and a likely wider range of opinion.38 Though Pakistan is instrumental in convincing insurgent entities to join the table for negotiations, the ISI may see them as the best way to maintain influence in Afghanistan and keep a hand in the post-2014 Afghan government. Cooperating with the U.S. to curb terrorism, therefore, would not be in its best interest as long as the Haqqanis remain focused on ousting international forces from the region rather than internal attacks on Pakistanis. Blacklisting in and of itself signals to the Haqqanis that the U.S. is not
Dressler, Jeffrey. The Haqqani Network: A Foreign Terrorist Organization. Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. 37 Mazzetti, Mark, Scott Shane, and Alissa J. Rubin. “Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan.” The New York Times 24 Sept. 2011: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. 38 Strick Van Linschoten, Alex, and Felix Kuehn. "A Pointless Blacklisting." The New York Times. The New York Times Co., 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Karas 11 interested in dealing with them as equals and may make them less willing to engage in peace talks. Labeling the Haqqani network as an FTO is more likely to have more of a short-term impact rather than be effective in the long run. At the current moment, it allows the Obama administration to look tough on foreign policy toward terrorism and provides a platform through which to push other countries to take similar stances. But the designation could prove to be only symbolic, applying old methods of financial targeting to a 21st-century enemy that is much harder to track and cripple. Certainly, the move to limit the network‟s licit business endeavors will only shift its emphasis to its illicit means of revenue and obtaining supplies, a phenomenon the U.S. has not yet learned how to control. Formal financial institutions and backers of the Haqqani network may only be marginally deterred, since the money laundering and legal loopholes for arms trafficking and forms of non-currency asset transfer that FTO-list organizations like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah continue to exploit will undoubtedly keep open avenues (albeit less detectable ones) for financial support. The political implications for the United States are likely to be more detrimental in the long run, creating barriers between the U.S. government, Haqqani and Taliban leadership and Pakistani officials who see the Americans as increasingly hostile. Designation only serves to put an official face on the previous unofficial stance toward the Haqqanis, and will most likely not influence the Pakistanis to adopt a harsher policy toward the network. Though the civilian government and the ISI may hold different views toward the Haqqani impact and its safe haven in federally administrated tribal areas, the lawlessness and difficulty of navigation in the FATA as well as the potential negative Haqqani response to provocation makes it still unlikely that the
Karas 12 military will increase its attempts to curb the network‟s operations within Pakistan or work to reduce violence within Afghanistan. Especially with plans to increase drone strikes in the region and therefore provoke further anger, the U.S. would do well to work on strengthening ties between the Pakistani civilian government, intelligence and military to bring everyone to the same page on action against the Haqqanis. If sanctions are necessary at all, they must be toward Pakistan to demonstrate a firm hand rather than against the Haqqanis, where they will be only marginally effective. The governments must create incentives for participating in the future of Afghanistan through cooperation rather than violence, and terrorist designation will not be efficient enough at stemming the Haqqanis‟ cash flow to coerce them into productive nationbuilding. Perhaps the increased drone strikes will lead Pakistan to take firmer action against the Haqqanis in the interest of protecting its civilians, but official FTO designation will only serve to increase tension between countries at a crucial juncture in the Afghan War. Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn are correct in their op-ed when they write, “[Senior Haqqani commanders and family members] are involved in the Afghan conflict to secure for themselves a future political role. Only a political process that engages them, rather than systematically sidelining them, will help end the war.”39 Though the Haqqanis are significantly more brutal under Jalaluddin‟s sons than when he himself ran the operations and may now be non-negotiable, the only way to test the network‟s capacity for compromise may be through a cease-fire agreement. Otherwise, come 2014, Afghanistan will undoubtedly descend into a chaos not seen in several years, with the Haqqanis and by proxy, Pakistan as well, eager to dictate the future of the country on their own terms – and certainly not quietly. Foreign terrorist designation,
Strick Van Linschoten, Alex, and Felix Kuehn. "A Pointless Blacklisting." The New York Times. The New York Times Co., 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Karas 13 ineffective though well-intentioned, may be what stands between a country waiting to erupt and its prospects for peace.
Note on sources: Due to the ever-evolving nature of the U.S. fight against the Haqqanis, I did much research but found it difficult to find sources that were either current, comprehensive or did not simply repeat the same findings of all other sources. As a college student, it is frustrating to only get access to official comment through news sources, and although the New York Times has exhaustively chronicled the Haqqanis‟ rise in the last decade, I wish I had been able to get more primary sources. The subject is also quite new and so books tend to only discuss Haqqani history and Cold War-era operations rather than its current ties to Pakistan. Another hazard of research is being unable to verify that Taliban sources are actually Taliban, but I did my best to doublecheck sources based on what the U.S. government says are real insurgent operatives.