United States Senator Mark Kirk just completed a two week tour of duty as a U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Commander in Afghanistan. He says what he saw during that tour was of major importance, and feels strongly that continued aid to Pakistan “Seems naive at best and counter-productive at worst. I am seriously reconsidering and rethinking how well aid to Pakistan serves us.”
The Pakistan government is providing “tremendous support” for a terror organization that operates on both sides of the Afghan/Pakistan border, and is a principle threat to our soldiers, and to the legitimate Afghan government. Kirk accuses Pakistan of duplicity and lying about support for the Taliban affiliated Haqqani Network, named for the organization’s grand master Jalaluddin Haqqani, who some feel may have surpassed Mullah Omar as the Taliban supreme leader. It is generally agreed that Jalaluddin Haqqani’s son, thirty year old Siraj, who may now hold the highest prominence.
In the past six months, the “mysterious and highly dangerous” Haqqani Network has carried out three of the four most spectacular terror attacks in Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network, held together by tribal and clan relationships, is based in the village of Dande Darpa Khel near North Waziristan, in a mountainous region of Pakistan; Zambar village in the Sabari district in Khost, Afghanistan, is the operations hub. Jalaluddin Haqqani, now elderly, once believed dead, was a recipient of U.S. aid during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s, as a leader in the fight against Soviet forces. The aid at that time was in the form of assistance from the CIA, through the ISI (Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence.) Jalaluddin Haqqani now dominates several eastern Pakistani provinces.
Senator Kirk in a speech to the Union League Club of Chicago charged that the militant Haqqani Network is backed and protected by the ISI, which is Pakistan’s powerful spy agency. “Let me be clear: many Americans died in Afghanistan because of Pakistan’s ISI.” Senator Kirk feels it is time to rethink “counter-productive” U.S. aid to Islamabad. “Pakistan has become the main threat to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Intelligence Service is the biggest danger to the Afghan government. It is also a tremendous threat to the lives of American troops.” said Kirk. Senator Kirk calls the Haqqani Network, “The most dangerous, lethal and cancerous force in Afghanistan.”
The Haqqanis belong to the eastern Zadran tribe; they operate and are feared on both sides of the border; they are a “critical bridge” to Pakistani Taliban groups and to al Qaeda. Jalaluddin Haqqani had earlier ties to the ISI, thus can move freely on either side of the border. Several operations intent on removing the supreme leader failed. It is lately reported by U.S. and Indian intelligence that the ISI and Haqqani Network jointly carried out a suicide car attack at India’s Kabul embassy on July 7.
The Haqqani Network on March 3 destroyed the Sabri district headquarters in Khost, killing two U.S. soldiers in a guard tower with a suicide truck. Siraj Haqqani and later Jalaluddin appeared in a 45 minute video which included footage of the attack.
Seven people were killed in an assault on the five-star Serena Hotel in downtown Kabul. This was carried out by the Haqqani Network, and confirmed by Siraj himself.
The Haqqani Network participated in a failed attempt to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in April. Senior Afghan defense officials are also thought to have had involvement in that attempt.
Senator Mark Kirk says Pakistan’s support for the Haqqani Network indicates clearly that the U.S. should shift its support in the region to India.