UN orders global sanctions against Haqqani network
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Monday ordered global sanctions against the Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan and its suicide attack mastermind.
The network, which has been widely linked to Pakistan, is accused of carrying out a string of major attacks in Afghanistan including against the US and Indian embassies and a major hotel in Kabul.
Haqqani and its chief suicide attack organiser, Qari Zakir, were added to the UN’s Afghanistan-Taliban sanctions list. This means nations must apply an assets freeze and travel ban against Zakir and seize any assets belonging to the network as well as impose an arms embargo.
The United States put the Haqqani network on its terror blacklist in September. The US State Department added Zakir to its list of terrorist suspects on Monday.
Founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a CIA asset turned al Qaeda ally who was close to Pakistani intelligence, the network is considered the most dangerous faction in the Taliban army in Afghanistan.
The UN designation said that the group was linked to al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and a string of militant groups in Pakistan including Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Jaish-i-Mohammed.
The Haqqanis have been blamed for spectacular attacks on Afghan government and Nato targets across Afghanistan as well as kidnappings and murders.
The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said operatives trained by Zakir attacked two international coalition bases in 2010, the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011, an attack which killed 11 civilians and two Afghan police, and the US embassy in Kabul in September 2011, which killed 16 Afghans, including at least six children.
It has also been blamed for an attack on the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital.
Afghanistan’s spy agency said in August that the network’s operational commander, Badruddin Haqqani, a son of the founder, had been killed in a US drone attack. The network is now believed to be led by another son, Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The designation could embarrass Pakistan, which is currently a member of the UN Security Council. Many Haqqani members are believed to be sheltering in Pakistan. The United States wants Pakistan to get tough with the Haqqani network as well as cut its financing from other Muslim nations, diplomats said.
Former US chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen said last year that the Haqqani network had become a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Ties between Islamabad and Washington have been rocky for years, and have only just resumed after being dealt a major blow by the secret operation that killed Osama bin Laden and an air raid that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops.
But the sanctions have been welcomed by the United States.
Rice said the US move expands upon the US measures and “confirms the international community’s resolve to end the Haqqani network’s ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan.
“It also reflects the Security Council’s commitment to use and enforce sanctions against those who threaten peace in Afghanistan, in conjunction with a strong commitment to support Afghan-led peace and reconciliation.”Rice said Zakir, who is also known as Abdul Rauf Zakir, “has been involved in many of the Haqqani network’s highest-profile suicide attacks and has trained individuals to use small arms, heavy weapons and improvised explosive devices.”