Striking a Deal with the Haqqanis

BY Herschel Smith
5 years ago

This article from The Hindu provides a good summary history of the Haqqanis.  Upon reading it, consider just how well connected and globally minded they are.

Born in the early 1950s, Jalaluddin Haqqani hailed from the Zadran tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. He studied at a seminary in Datta Adam Khel, and would likely have gone on to become a rural cleric — had it not been for a series of dramatic events that transformed Afghanistan, eventually bringing to power a new class of armed clerics who would displace both the traditional tribal élite and the modernising left-wing secularists who had swept them aside.

In 1973, Afghan communists overthrew the decaying monarchy. Even though the new President, Daud Muhammad Khan, was the deposed king’s brother-in-law, he declared the country a republic. President Khan presided over a dramatic process of social reform — marked, among other things, by an emphasis on women’s rights. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, fearful that Mr. Khan’s nationalist rhetoric would seduce ethnic Pashtuns living on its side of the border, responded by backing an insurgency spearheaded by the Afghan Islamists.

Five years before the crisis that would suck the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani declared war against the Afghan state. Helped by the ISI, he developed sources of funding in the Middle East, using the flow of cash to build an impressive military apparatus.

The ISI, though, wasn’t Jalaluddin Haqqani’s only source of support. In the wake of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, journalist Steve Coll has revealed, he was cultivated as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset. Charlie Wilson, a right-wing politician who helped funnel tens of millions of dollars to the Afghan jihadists, described Jalaluddin Haqqani as “goodness personified.”

Key figures in the global jihadist movement — among them Osama bin Laden — learned their military skills in camps set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and maintained a close relationship with him in the years that followed.

Mustafa al-Hamid, an al-Qaeda linked ideologue and writer who served with Jalaluddin Haqqani’s forces, wrote a hagiographic account which was published in the jihadist magazine al-Somud last year. The “majesty in his personality was a model for the great religious scholars of Afghanistan and students of the knowledge of the pure mujahideen, who now stand as an impregnable bulwark against the largest crusader attack upon the Islamic nation.”

From the outset, scholars Don Rassler and Vahid Brown have noted in a seminal paper, that Jalaluddin Haqqani helped shape the global jihadist movement’s ideas.

In 1980, for example, Haqqani asserted that Middle Eastern charity to the Afghan campaign did “not absolve the individual Muslim of the duty to offer himself for the jihad.” Abdullah Azzam — bin Laden’s mentor, Lashkar-e-Taiba co-founder and ideological patriarch of the global jihadist movement — arrived at the same conclusion four years later, when he declared the Afghan jihad fard ‘ayn, an individual obligation. When bin Laden shifted base to a pink stucco three-storey home in Khartoum in 1991, having fallen out with Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Jalaluddin Haqqani used the opportunity to operate on a wider stage. He backed Hasan al-Turabi’s Islamist regime in Sudan, and sent volunteers to fight in Bosnia. In 1991, at a meeting in Karachi, he also bragged about his war against India, saying his networks had “trained thousands of Kashmiri mujahideen and have made them ready for the jihad.”

Nizamuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin Haqqani’s deputy, proclaimed in 1991 that the U.S. and Russia were “both infidel forces.”

Bin Laden’s close relationship with the Haqqanis helped him act on those ideas during his last, tortured months in Afghanistan — scarred by an increasingly bitter relationship with Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar which saw al-Qaeda’s leader confined to the city of Kandahar.

“From that point on,” Dr. Rassler and Dr. Brown record, “al-Qaeda came to increasingly rely on the Haqqani network’s autonomy from the Taliban in Loya Paktia as a launching pad for its declarations of war on the West.”

Bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the West — his most sweeping manifesto and ideological keystone of the 9/11 attacks, was critically issued from a Haqqani camp in the Zhawara valley.

Since 9/11, the Haqqani network has survived by using the same geographical advantages that stood it so well during the anti-Soviet jihad: its control of key routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and its ability to retreat south across the border.

Now take note of one particularly stolid commentary at Reuters.

Pakistan hopes the United States will eventually welcome the participation of the Haqqanis in any Afghan peace talks. Kabul also understands the group can’t be excluded.

Although the Haqqanis fall under the command of Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, U.S. officials believe they do not always accept Taliban authority and can act independently.

Jalaluddin has historically shown a penchant for changing sides, as the Americans know all too well, and he may be more flexible than the hardline Siraj.

Washington is scrambling to bring stability to Afghanistan at it gradually withdraws from the country. Striking a deal with the Haqqanis may be wise while the ailing Jalaluddin might still have a say.

That was no mistake, and you don’t have to read it again.  Reuters is recommending that we strike a deal with the “ailing” elder Haqqani who likes to switch sides rather than his more radical son.  And hurry.  The ailing Haqqani may die, in which case whatever deal we might have struck with him – which was sure to be honored by his more radical son – will have been a missed opportunity.

This is what happens when ignorant people assign themselves the responsibility and authority to become Afghanistan / Pashtun / Islamic / Jihadist / Pakistani experts.  Also, regarding that last paragraph in The Hindu piece on control of key routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan, who was it that issued the warning about the coming logistical struggle because of the attacks on lines through Khyber and Chaman, and that, three and a half years ago?

  • http://www.firstcontactproject.org Warbucks

    What directives or war related strategies would you be recommending instead, given the authority, right now?

  • http://www.firstcontactproject.org Warbucks

    Looks like your analysis to engage the Caucusus is being moved to front burner by JCS : http://tinyurl.com/3mjbd8r


You are currently reading "Striking a Deal with the Haqqanis", entry #7636 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Haqqani Network,Jihadists and was published September 25th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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