Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist group Haqqani Network, was named the Taliban’s interior minister Tuesday.
The FBI offers $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Haqqani, whose group has deep ties to al-Qaida. He is accused of organizing a 2008 bombing at the Kabul Serena Hotel that killed six people, including an American, and an assassination attempt on then-Afghan president Hamid Karzai. (RELATED: Taliban Announces Leadership Of New Government, Which Says It Will ‘Uphold Sharia’)
Globally designated terrorist of Haqqani Network Sirajuddin Haqqani is the new Interior Minister of Afghanistan. Let that sink in. pic.twitter.com/pCgWlcJIRW
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) September 7, 2021
Haqqani attempted to soften the Taliban’s image via a 2020 op-ed in The New York Times in which he claimed that his group was “committed to working with other parties in a consultative manner of genuine respect to agree on a new, inclusive political system.”
“We together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity,” he wrote.
The Haqqani Network, founded by Sirajuddin’s father Jalaluddin, has allied with the Taliban since the 1980s and 90s, when the groups opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jalaluddin was a close ally of Osama Bin Laden until the al-Qaida chief’s death in 2011.
“Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaida remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage,” a United Nations (UN) Security Council report published in May 2020 found. According to the report, “the Taliban regularly consulted with al–Qaida during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties.” (RELATED: ‘Al-Qaida, ISIS, The Haqqani Network’: Liz Cheney Warns Of Renewed Terrorist Threat)
“The Haqqanis expose the lie that there is a line between Taliban and other jihadist groups, especially al-Qaida,” former National Security Adviser HR McMaster told the Wall Street Journal in August.
The Taliban named Sirajuddin’s uncle, Khalil Haqqani, Kabul security chief in August, shortly after it took the city. Anas Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s brother, was released from prison in 2019 as part of an exchange.