A few extracts from a new CTC study on the Haqqanis.
Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has a new report on the Haqqani network, the jehadi group based in North Waziristan. Titled The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of al-Qa’ida, the deeply-researched study report is authored by Don Rassler and Vahid Brown. The report explores how the Haqqani network has historically functioned as a nexus organization and as a strategic enabler of local, regional and global forms of Islamist militancy. Specific attention is placed on examining the Haqqani network’s support for al-Qa`ida and its global jihad, and more recently the Pakistani Taliban.
A few noteworthy extracts from the study, especially some pertaining to Kashmir:
- At the regional level, many of the Pakistanis who fought with Haqqani would later shift their attention and employ the fighting skills and training they had acquired in Loya Paktia against Indian forces in Kashmir. Some would even go on to create their own jihadist organizations and become legendary commanders, a dynamic perhaps best exemplified by Fazlur Rahman Khalil and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, who were respectively central to the formation of Harakat ul Mujahidin (HuM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
- Jalaluddin Haqqani was not bashful about his influence or impact upon the Kashmir jihad, and his assistance would pay dividends to the Pakistani state and its covert war against India. During a meeting in Karachi attended by some of Pakistan’s religious elite, including the General Secretary of Jamiat Ulema?e?Islam, Haqqani boasted, “We have trained thousands of Kashmiri mujahidin, and have made them ready for jihad.” Farooq Kashmiri, the Deputy Head of HuM, directed students at the madrassa where this gathering was held to spend their summer in Afghanistan so they could train under Jalaluddin. These and other Pakistani madrassa students likely formed the rank and file at HuM/Harakat-ul-Ansar (HUA) training camps throughout the 1990s, all of which were based in Loya Paktia and supported by the ISI.
- The Haqqani network’s direct support for various Kashmiri training camps are revealed in a 1998 communication from the Pakistani government to the Taliban, contained in the Harmony database. This document includes a list in Pashto and English of nine wanted Pakistani “terrorists,” with photographs and names, aliases and last known sightings.
- The most striking element of the Haqqani network’s evolution post 9/11 is the persistence of its cross?dimensional nexus. During this decade, surprisingly little changed in terms of the Haqqani network’s relations, strategy and outlook. The war in Afghanistan has reinforced and strengthened the Haqqani network’s central role, with the group still being located at the nexus between local, regional and global forms of militancy. Similar to the 1990s, areas in which the Haqqani network exerts the most influence continue to be used as a platform to enable other actors, most notably al Qa’ida and more recently elements of the TTP. The Haqqani network has been able to maintain close ties with these actors while also remaining a key proxy for Islamabad, highlighting the paradox underlying Pakistan’s security policy. Perhaps most importantly, this nexus has also survived a generational change in leadership from father Jalaluddin to son Sirajuddin, as well as a ten year campaign against al Qa’ida conducted by the United States and its partner Pakistan.
- The actions and outlook of Haqqani network leaders are not confined to the Afghan theater today, and they have not been since the late 1970s. In addition to operating as a distinct organization, the Haqqani network has historically functioned as a nexus and key enabler for local, regional and global groups. Al?Qa’ida’s global jihad and elements of Kashmir’s regional jihad have been shaped by the safe haven, training, combat experience, propaganda support, resource mobilization, and networking opportunities facilitated by the Haqqani network. By serving as the local to al?Qa’ida’s global over multiple decades, the Haqqani network has directly contributed to the development and endurance of global jihad.
- The nature of Haqqani support for international jihadism, however, is best evaluated through the context of the group’s consistent support for al Qa’ida and the Haqqani network’s unwillingness to meaningfully disengage from the group since it formally declared war on the United States in 1998. This makes the Haqqani network a willing ideological partner and an active participant in al Qa’ida’s global jihad, as Haqqani network leaders have consistently provided the local context and space for al Qa’ida to sustain itself and continue its fight. By shedding new light on the history of al Qa’ida, this report also tells us that al Qa’ida and the Haqqani network, and not the Quetta Shura Taliban, became the United States’ primary enemies on 11 September 2001.
- Pakistan’s favored Afghan proxy is also the very same actor that has served as al Qa’ida’s primary local enabler for over two decades. Given the ISI’s historical sponsorship of the Haqqani network, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan has not been aware of this history. Although less clear, there is also some evidence that the ISI helped, and continues to a lesser degree, to facilitate these ties, suggesting that Pakistan could have played a more influential role in the development of al Qa’ida than has thus far been recognized. More tangible is Pakistan’s reluctance to conduct a military operation against the Haqqani network and the milieu of jihadist actors sheltered in North Waziristan. Pakistan’s inaction is fueling the Afghan insurgency and it is also providing space for the Haqqani network to sustain itself and for anti?Pakistan militants and global jihadists to further coalesce. Left unchecked, North Waziristan will continue to function as the epicenter of international terrorism.
- In the wake of Usama bin Ladin’s death, the al Qa’ida organization may face an uncertain future, but the nexus of resources and relationships that the Haqqani network carefully assembled over the course of three decades and which helped to foster al Qa’ida’s rise remains firmly in place. Positioned between two unstable states, and operating beyond their effective sovereignty, the Haqqani network has long been mistaken for a local actor with largely local concerns. It is vital that the policy community correct the course that has taken this erroneous assessment for granted and recognize the Haqqani network’s region of refuge for what it has always been – the fountainhead of jihad.[CTC]
A quick conclusion. The contents of this report confirms what this blogger has long suspected about US demands from Pakistan. Forget the intelligence cooperation and the NATO supply lines, the US pressure on Pakistan, including the pause in military aid, is driven only by one goal — to press the Pakistan Army to undertake military operations in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network.
Perhaps there is good reason why the US has avoided highlighting this issue publicly. It is to save Pakistani Army chief General Kayani the embarrassment of being seen as sending his troops into North Waziristan under direct US pressure, if he agrees to send them there. But that is a big If — if General Kayani is able to convince his corps commanders that Pakistan army should actually be taking on its long-term strategic asset, the Haqqani network.