A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Haqqani Network Narrative


Haqqani Network

Last Update

June 2015

Aliases

Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen, HQN[1]

History

Although it is unclear when the Haqqani Network (HQN) was officially formed, its founder and its roots can be traced back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of HQN, was a leader of one of the more radical mujahedeen factions during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Hizb-e Islami.[2] Jalaluddin joined with the Afghan Taliban as it grew in strength during the 1990s, although schisms between fighters loyal to Haqqani and the Taliban occasionally flared up.[3] Following the collapse of the Taliban government in 2001, the Haqqani family fled to Waziristan, effectively moving their command center to the tribal regions of Pakistan.[4] From this position, Haqqani extended the network’s reach further into Pakistan, which many locals seemed to embrace due to Jalaluddin’s history.[5]

By the middle of 2005 it is believed that Jalaluddin’s son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, took over most operations.[6] Since his move into power, Sirajuddin has orchestrated major attacks within Afghanistan to disrupt any U.S. interests.[7] The network’s most notable attack was a day-long siege in 2011 on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul which killed more than 16 people.[8] HQN was weakened in 2012 with the death of Badruddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin and brother of Sirajuddin, who operated as the group’s operational commander.[9] The United States. continued to conduct drone strikes in Pakistan against Haqqani operatives with some success, killing the network’s second in command, Waliur Rahman, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 2013.[10] On October 31, 2014, an American drone strike in South Waziristan killed Abdullah Haqqani along with six other militants.[11]

Home Base

  • 1990s-2001: Afghanistan
  • 2001-Present: Pakistan (Federally Administered Tribal Areas)

Founding Year

The HQN has no definitive founding year; Jalaluddin Haqqani increased his sphere of influence gradually over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, although it was recognized as its own distinct entity by 1994.[12]

Ideology

Religious-Sunni-Islamist.[13]

Specific Goals

  • Consolidate its influence over several groups in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
  • Establish control and allow free movement in southeastern Afghanistan
  • Conduct attacks and assassinations in and around Kabul for the purpose of showing the weakness of the Afghan government
  • Ally with other terrorist groups such as Al-Qa’ida to fight in Afghanistan,
  • Attack and disrupt both American and Indian interests.[14]

Political Activity

None

Financing

  • Donations: HQN receives contributions from locals in the areas in which they are active as well as from donations in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.[15]
  • State Sponsorship: receives financial and logistical support from the Pakistani military.[16]
  • Extortion: collects security payments from local businesses, ranging from small shops to large firms.[17] 
  • Trafficking: Although HQN does not directly deal with the trafficking and sale of narcotics, the network does participate in the movement of chemical precursors which are used to convert the raw materials, opium in many cases, into morphine base and heroin.[18]
  • Kidnapping: Kidnapping of local business owners appears to be a viable source of income for the HQN although they do have a list of legitimate targets, such as government officials, NATO transports, and spies, in order disguise the kidnappings as politically, rather than financially, motivated.[19]

Leadership and Structure over Time

  • HQN executes most of its actions through small, often tribal, units, with the commanders orchestrating from afar (usually Pakistan).[20]
    • The leadership operates in a hierarchal fashion, although it is more akin to the popular view of a mafia family than a traditional terrorist organization or insurgent group.
    • Founder of the HQN, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is still officially the leader of the group, although he operates in more of an advisor capacity to two of his sons, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Badruddin Haqqani, who were the strategic and operational commanders respectively until Badruddin was killed in a drone strike in 2012.[21]

Strength

  • 2009: 4000-12,000[22]
  • 2012: 5,000-7,000[23]

Allies and Suspected Allies

  • Al-Qa’ida
    • Al-Qa’ida and Haqqani Network have been strongly allied since Haqqani’s founding.[24]
  • Taliban (ally)
    • Haqqani joined with the Taliban in 1995 during the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan.[25] The groups are still closely affiliated.[26]
  • Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
    • Haqqani Network and the TTP began coordinating and offering support to each other in 2007.[27]
    • However, in 2012 there were reports that the two groups had clashed, resulting in the deaths of several militants.[28]
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
    • After IMU moved operations to Pakistan they established a strong alliance with the Haqqani Network.[29]
    • IMU provides the Haqqani network with militants and in return the Haqqani network offers refuge and militant training in its bases in Waziristan.[30]
  • Hizb-I-Islami  (HIG) (ally)
    • HIG and Haqqani Network both operate in Sabari District in Afghanistan and generally have a collaborative relationship.[31]
    • However, the relationship is contentious, and the groups have clashed before such as in 2010 when two militants were killed in an exchange of fire.[32]
  • Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) (ally)
    • News articles in 2011 and 2012 suggest that the groups have relations and may be collaborating.[33]
  • Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (ally)
    • Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was listed as cooperating with Haqqani Network by the U.S. Department of State in 2012 and 2013.[34]
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
    • LeT and Haqqani Network have a collaborative relationship including joint trainings and shared access to territory.[35]
  • Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)[36]

Rivals and Enemies

  • Afghan Government (enemy)
    • HQN has sought to show (and deepen) the Afghan government's weakness by assassination and other attacks of poorly defended targets.[37]
    • Between 2006 and 2013, 48 percent of all HQN attacks targeted Afghani government, military or police personnel.[38]
  • United States (enemy)
    • HQN has sought to disrupt American interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including revenge attacks for what it views a crimes by U.S. military personnel.[39]
    • Between 2006 and 2013, 8 percent of all HQN attacks targeted U.S. diplomatic and military personnel.[40]
  • Coalition Forces (enemy)
    • HQN has tried to sow chaos and insecurity while revealing the inability of coalition forces to protect civilians.[41]
    • Between 2006 and 2013, 23 percent of all HQN attacks targeted NATO personnel.[42]

Counterterrorism Efforts

  • International, Military:
    • The United States, with an increase of special forces and standard army units as well as drone strikes, counter the Haqqani Network’s activities.[43]
    • Several leaders have been killed, such as Badruddin and Abdullah Haqqani, both of whom were killed by U.S. drone strikes in 2012 and 2014 respectively.[44]

United States Government Designations

  • Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), September 19, 2012.[45]
  • Specially Designated Global Terrorists:[46]
    • Sirajuddin Haqqani, March 2008
    • Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, February 9, 2011
    • Abdul Raul Zakir, November 5, 2012
    • Yahya Haqqani, February 5, 2014

Other Governments’ Designations

None.

 

[1] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf.

[2] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[3] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[4] Jane Perlez, “Rebuffing US, Pakistan Balks at Crackdown,” The New York Times, December 15, 2009, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/world/asia/15haqqani.html.

[5] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[6] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[7] Jason Straziuso, “Attack at Luxury Hotel in Kabul Kills at Least 6,” The Washington Post, January 15, 2008, sec. World, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/14/AR2008011400784.html; “Kabul Suicide Car Bomber Kills 18,” BBC News, May 18, 2010, sec. South Asia, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8688635.stm; Jack Healy and Alissa J Rubin, “US Blames Haqqani Network for Kabul Embassy Attack,” The New York Times, September 14, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/asia/us-blames-kabul-assault-on-pakistan-based-group.html; Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane, and Alissa J Rubin, “Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils US in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, September 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/world/asia/brutal-haqqani-clan-bedevils-united-states-in-afghanistan.html; US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf.

[8] Jack Healy and Alissa J Rubin, “US Blames Haqqani Network for Kabul Embassy Attack,” The New York Times, September 14, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/asia/us-blames-kabul-assault-on-pakistan-based-group.html; Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane, and Alissa J Rubin, “Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils US in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, September 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/world/asia/brutal-haqqani-clan-bedevils-united-states-in-afghanistan.html.

[9] CNN Wire Staff, “Haqqani Network Militant Killed, Afghanistan Says,” CNN News, August 26, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/26/world/asia/afghanistan-haqqani-dead/index.html.

[10] Mushtaq Yusufzai, “US Drone Attack Kills Taliban No. 2 in Pakistan, Officials and Locals Say,” NBC News, May 28, 2013, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/29/18571567-us-drone-attack-kills-taliban-no-2-in-pakistan-officials-and-locals-say.

[11] “Top Commander of Feared Haqqani Network Killed in US Drone Strike,” Russia Today, October 31, 2014, http://rt.com/usa/201231-abdullah-haqqani-drone-strike/.

[12] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf; Don Rassler and Vahid Brown, “The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of Al-Qaida” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 14, 2011), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf.

[13] “US Drone Strike Kills Top Commander of Haqqani Network,” Times of Iraq, November 1, 2014, www.timesofiraq.com/2014/11/us-drone-strike-kills-top-commander-of.html; NCTC, “Counterterrorism Calendar 2015” (National Counterterrorism Center, August 15, 2014), http://www.nctc.gov/site/pdfs/ct_calendar_2015.pdf; Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[14] Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[15] Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[16] Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[17] Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[18] Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[19] Gretchen Peters, “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 2012), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf.

[20] Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane, and Alissa J Rubin, “Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils US in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, September 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/world/asia/brutal-haqqani-clan-bedevils-united-states-in-afghanistan.html; Don Rassler and Vahid Brown, “The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of Al-Qaida” (West Point, NY: Harmony Program, Combatting Terrorism Center, July 14, 2011), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf.

[21] Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane, and Alissa J Rubin, “Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils US in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, September 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/world/asia/brutal-haqqani-clan-bedevils-united-states-in-afghanistan.html; “Structure of a Terrorist Network,” The New York Times, September 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/24/world/structure-of-a-terrorist-network.html; CNN Wire Staff, “Haqqani Network Militant Killed, Afghanistan Says,” CNN News, August 26, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/26/world/asia/afghanistan-haqqani-dead/index.html.

[22] Jane Perlez, “Rebuffing US, Pakistan Balks at Crackdown,” The New York Times, December 15, 2009, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/world/asia/15haqqani.html.

[23] “Chapter Eleven: Non-State Groups and Affiliates,” The Military Balance 112 (2012): 477-484, DOI: 10.1080/04597222.2012.663221

[24] Don Rassler and Vahid Brown, “The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of al-Qa’ida,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, July 11, 2011. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf;

[25] “Haqqani Network: Pashtun Militant Organization,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed June 17, 2015, http://www.britannica.com/topic/Haqqani-network.

[26] Frontline, “Jalaluddin Haqqani,” TV synopsis, PBS, (October 3, 2006), http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/militants/haqqani.html.

[27] Gretchen Peters, "Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry," The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, July 2012. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/v2/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CTC_Haqqani_Network_Financing-Report__Final.pdf

[28] "Not allies: 8 dead as TTP, Haqqani Network clash in North Waziristan," The Express Tribune, April 19, 2012, http://tribune.com.pk/story/367215/not-allies-8-dead-as-ttp-haqqani-network-clash-in-north-waziristan/

[29] Fitz, Duncan, Thomas M Sanderson, and Sung In Marshall. 2014. Central Asian Militancy: A Primary Source Examination. CSIS Transnational Threats Project. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://csis.org/files/publication/140509_Fitz_CentralAsianMilitancy_WEB.pdf.

[30] Dressler, Jeffrey. 2012. The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat. 9. Afghanistan Report. Washington, DC: Institue for the Study of War. https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[31] Dressler, Jeffrey. 2012. The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat. 9. Afghanistan Report. Washington, DC: Institue for the Study of War. https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf; U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2009, Chapter 2: South and Central Asia Overview,  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140887.htm

[32]  “NATO forces battle a mishmash of insurgents 1550,” The West Australian, November 20, 2010; Dressler, Jeffrey. 2012. The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat. 9. Afghanistan Report. Washington, DC: Institue for the Study of War. https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf

[33] "US Must Work with India," The Pioneer (India), September 27, 2011; "Afghan Intelligence Official Confirms Death of Senior Haqqani Member," BBC Monitoring South Asia - Political, August 27, 2012.

[34] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, May 30,

2013, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/209989.htm; U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, April 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/

[35] Jeffrey Dressler, "Combating the Haqqani Terrorist Network," House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, September 13, 2012; "Rebel leader's al-Qa'ida links hamper Afghan peace talks," Irish Independent, July 5, 2010.

[36] Lisa Curtis, Combating the Haqqani Terrorist Network (Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation, 2012), http://www.heritage.org/research/testimony/2012/09/combating-the-haqqani-terrorist-network; “Haqqani Network,” Institute for the Study of War, accessed June 29, 2015, http://www.understandingwar.org/haqqani-network.

[37] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf; Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf.

[38] START, “Global Terrorism Database [Data File],” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2013, http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.

[39] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf.

[40] START, “Global Terrorism Database [Data File],” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2013, http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.

[41] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf; Jeffrey Dressler, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Afghanistan Report (Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of War, March 2012), https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf..

[42] START, “Global Terrorism Database [Data File],” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2013, http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.

[43] Ashley Fantz, “The Haqqani Network, a Family and a Terror Group,” CNN News, September 7, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/07/world/who-is-haqqani/index.html.

[44] CNN Wire Staff, “Haqqani Network Militant Killed, Afghanistan Says,” CNN News, August 26, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/26/world/asia/afghanistan-haqqani-dead/index.html; “Top Commander of Feared Haqqani Network Killed in US Drone Strike,” Russia Today, October 31, 2014, http://rt.com/usa/201231-abdullah-haqqani-drone-strike/.

[45] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” (Washington, DC: US Department of State, April 2013), http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf.

[46] Bureau of Public Affairs, “Rewards for Justice - Reward Offers for Information on Haqqani Network Leaders,” Media Note, US Department of State, (August 20, 2014), http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/230778.htm.