The acting interior minister of Afghanistan Masoud Andrabi alleged recently that the new leader of ISIS Khorasan branch, Shahab Almahajir, is a terrorist of the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network terrorist.
“Shahab Almahajir, the newly appointed leader of the Islamic state of Khorasan province -ISKP is a Haqqani member. Haqqani and the Taliban carry out their terrorism on a daily basis across Afghanistan and when their terrorist activities do not suit them politically they rebrand it under ISKP,” Andrabi tweeted on Monday.
This year in May, former Afghan intelligence chief, Rahmatullah Nabil, warned that Haqqani Network from Pakistan is “backing” proscribed terror groups in planning a ‘9/11 style’ attack in the West.
What is The Haqqani Network?
The Haqqani Network emerged in the 1980s and consists largely of fighters who grouped around Jalaluddin Haqqani post that period. The outfit today is led by Sirajuddin Haqqani and is rumoured to have between 10,000-15,000 terrorists.
The Haqqani network pledged allegiance to the Taliban in 1995 and have been an increasingly incorporated wing of the group ever since.
In the past, the Taliban and Haqqani leaders have denied the existence of the network calling it no different from the Taliban. In the 1980s, the Haqqani network was one of the most favored CIA-funded anti-Soviet guerrilla groups by the Reagan administration. In 2012, the United states designated the Haqqani network, a terrorist organisation.
In 2015, Pakistan also banned the Haqqani network as part of its National Action Plan.
Ideology of the Haqqani Network
The Haqqani network’s root values are nationalistic and religious.
They are ideologically aligned with the Taliban who have worked to eradicate western influence and transform Afghanistan into a strictly sharia-following state.
This was exemplified in the government that formed after soviet troops, driven from Afghanistan. Both the groups have the common goal of disrupting the western military and political efforts in Afghanistan and driving them from the country permanently.
Currently the group demands that the US and coalition forces, made up mostly of NATO nations, withdraw Afghanistan and no longer interfere with the politics or educational systems of Islamic nations.
Where does this network operate from?
The network basically operates in federally administered tribal areas (FATA) in northern Pakistan, near the southeastern border of Afghanistan.
The network has used the confusion of the FATA to cloak its activities and avoid interference. The strategy worked well until president Obama ramped up UAV strikes in the northern Waziristan region. The organisational headquarters is reportedly in Miram Shah where the group operates base camps to facilitate activities like weapon acquisitions.
The US has accused Pakistan of maintaining a strong working relationship with the Haqqani Network.
A UN report has estimated that around 6,000-6,500 Pakistani terrorists are in neighbouring Afghanistan, posing a threat to both the countries.
The 26th report of the analytical support and sanctions Monitoring team concerning ISIS, Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities said the terror group Al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) operates under the Taliban umbrella from Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan.