Jalaluddin Haqqani

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Maulvi (also Maulana, a clerical title) Jalaluddin Haqqanni is an Afghan who the commander of Taliban military forces, but has been mentioned as a potential participant in a long-term peace process. He is a Pashtun, a member of the Zadran clan of the Ghilzai tribe, a rival of the dominant Durrani. Unusually for an Afghan, he is married to an Arab woman; he speaks fluent Arabic and has his own connections to Arab states independent of Osama bin Laden. He was an early enemy of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1970s.

His son, Sirajuddin (Siraj), is his deputy and may have taken over much of his operations.

He leads a group called the Haqqani Network, based in the Paktia, Paktika, and Khost Provinces (P2K or Greater Paktia) of Afghanistan, and in the North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).[1] While he is Afghan, he also identifies with the Miram Shah area of North Waziristan, in the FATA.

Like many Afghan leaders, he has shifted alliances many times. Shortly after the Taliban was driven out of control in 2001, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said he had been in discussions, in Islamabad, as part of a "'broad-based government' to succeed the Taliban." He countered "No one from the Taliban will be part of such an unacceptable government, which will be filled with American, Russian and Indian stooges," and spoke of wanting Mullah Omar's agreement to any government. [2]

Steve Coll described him as "an independent-minded, dangerous man, but someone we could do business with."[3] He is, however, associated with Salafist doctrines and has created madrassas. [4] Nevertheless, he is also been a negotiator with the Pakistanis. [5]

Resistance to Soviets

During the Afghanistan War (1978-1992), he was especially close to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. He was part of the Hezb-e-Islami party, but, when it split, went with Yunis Khalis rather than Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

While he was the first Afghan commander to take back a city in 1991, Peter Tomsen, U.S. special envoy and ambassador on Afghanistan, 1989-1992, said that ISI directed mudjahden commanders; they did not develop their own strategies. "In the attack on Khost in January of 1991, which was the first major communist bastion to fall after the Soviets left ... there were ISI officers positioned with different mujahideen groups, who wouldn't cooperate with each other in a general offensive, because of their differences. But, the ISI officers were deployed with each group … [including] the Haqqani group."[6]

Haqqani received a ministry in the new government of Burhanuddin Rabbani but joined the Taliban in 1995.


Haqanni fought with the Taliban but was critical of their attempt to use Ghilzai as "cannon fodder" in 1995. [7] He formed a personal relationship with Osama bin Laden, and served minister of tribal affairs in the Taliban government, and, in September 2001, Mullah Omar appointed him the commander-in-chief of the Taliban armed forces. Coll said that al-Qaeda first established itself in Haqqani's area. Since he was not from the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Coll thinks that the U.S. and Pakistan tried to separate him from the jihadists.

He was the key commander in taking the Shomali Plain, north of Kabul, back from the Northern Alliance. Nevertheless, while he fought with the Taliban, his relations were rough and he saw himself more as an ISI client. [6]

Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., said, in 2006, that while Haqqani had been an ISI asset, they did not necessarily know where he was.[8]


In March 2008, the Taliban used a new tactic of suicide car bombings, for which Haqqani later took credit on a propaganda video. Suicide bombing is questionable even to the Taliban. Although he looked aged in it, he denied that he was sick or dead and had given command to his son.[4] A U.S. spokesman, LTC Army Lt. Col. Dave Anders, Combined Joint Task Force-82 director of operations, said that “Siraj Haqqani is the one who is training, influencing, commanding and leading,” said “Kidnappings, assassinations, beheading women, indiscriminate killings and suicide bombers - Siraj is the one dictating the new parameters of brutality associated with Taliban senior leadership.”[9]

While he and his son have repeated their loyalty to Mullah Omar, a 2008 letter, grieving about the loss of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah Lang called on the Taliban forces to replace Mullah Omar, speaking highly of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. [1]

The U.S. fired missiles at his house in September 2008, reportedly killing three al-Qaeda members but also members of the Haqqani family. This offended Pakistani public opinion, but may be winked at by the government. [10] Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, on April 24, 2009, said that Harqqani is "someone who could be reached out to...to negotiate and bring [the Taliban] into the fold." [11] Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs for Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, seconded the comment.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Haqqani Network, Institute for the Study of War
  2. John F. Burns (October 21, 2001), "A Nation Challenged: the Aftermath; Taliban Army Chief Scoffs At Report of Peace Talks", New York Times
  3. "Interview: Steve Coll", Frontline, Public Broadcasting Service, July 20, 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 Carlotta Gall (June 17, 2008), "Old-Line Taliban Commander Is Face of Rising Afghan Threat", New York Times
  5. M Ilyas Khan (April 20, 2009), "The Afghan-Pakistan militant nexus", BBC News
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Interview: Peter Tomsen", Frontline, Public Broadcasting Service
  7. Ahmed Rashid (2000), Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Yale University Press, ISBN 0300089023, pp. 59-60
  8. "Interview: Munir Akram", Frontline, Public Broadcasting Service, August 15, 2006
  9. U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Dinneen, “ANSF, Coalition Forces Focus on Haqqani Network,” Combined Joint Task Force-82 Public Affairs Office, quoted by the Institute for the Study of War
  10. Aryn Baker (September 10, 2008), "US Stepping Up Operations in Pakistan", Time
  11. Jon Ward (April 27, 2009), "Saudi prince says Taliban leader could be U.S. ally", Washington Times