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TerrorismHouse designates Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization

Published 18 July 2012

The U.S. House of Representative yesterday voted to designate the Haqqani Network as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO); the network has been supported and armed by Pakistan, which uses the Haqqanis to attack U.S. and coalition soldiers, aid the Taliban, destabilize the Karzai government, and frustrate U.S. Afghan strategy; if the Senate approves the House bill, this would mean designating the Pakistani government, or at least some of its major agencies, as supporters of terrorism, making it legally difficult for the United States to continue and send billions of dollars in military and civilian aid to Pakistan

The U.S. House of Representative yesterday voted to designate the Haqqani Network as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The designation allows the United States to freeze the assets of the group and prosecute individuals aiding or assisting the group for providing material support to terrorism.

The Haqqani Network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and is the single largest threat for IED’s our soldiers face in that country,” Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “They actively plot and kill U.S. and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path. To better protect the lives of U.S. soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated.”

CNN reports that the bill originated in the Senate, where it was sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). It now goes back to the Senate for consideration.

We are bringing a great deal of pressure to bear on the Haqqanis,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said last week. “And we believe that on the Pakistani side of the border, that additional action needs to be taken by the Pakistanis to root out this network of militants that is a menace to Afghanistan and to Pakistan.”

The Haqqani Network was created by the Mezi clan of the Zadran Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan in the 1970s, then supported by the CIA and the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, during the 1980s in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, the Haqqani Network occupied itself with crime and smuggling.

Members of the network fled to Pakistan in 2003, after the Taliban regime was toppled by the United States. Since then, the relationship between the ISI and the Haqqanis have deepened. The Pakistani intelligence service helped the Haqqanis build three training camps in Pakistan, and the network, using money and arms provided by Pakistan, has augmented its ranks by recruiting foreign fighters. It is not known how many fighters the network has, with estimates ranging from 5,000 to 15,000.

With Pakistani military and intelligence help, the Haqqanis initiated the use of IEDs in Afghanistan against U.S. and coalition soldiers. More generally, Pakistan has used the network to support the Taliban, destabilize the Karzai government, and sabotage the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

The interesting question is this: If the Senate approves the House bill and Congress designate the Haqqani network as an FTO, this would mean designating the Pakistani government, or at least some of its major agencies, as supporters of terrors, making it legally difficult for the United States to continue and send billions of dollars in military and civilian aid to Pakistan.