A designated terrorist and self-proclaimed chief of security in Kabul, Khalil Haqqani is a leader of the Haqqani network, which has close ties with the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) that claimed responsibility for the twin blasts near the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday. Haqqani has reportedly served as the chief of operations of the Haqqani network, a group that was dubbed by the UN as one of the Taliban’s most combat-ready forces.
In his role as chief of the group, Haqqani allegedly oversaw suicide bombings against US forces and Afghan civilians in 2018. He was designated as a terrorist by the United States government in 2011 and is also the subject of a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Haqqani was a CIA partner when the agency was involved in helping Afghan rebels fight Soviet troops in the 1980s, news agency IANS quoted an NBC report, in which Doug London, who used to run CIA counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.
London also said that Haqqani was the senior emissary to the Al Qaeda leadership and an intermediary to Pakistan’s Intelligence agency.
The Haqqani Network was formed by Jalaluddin Haqqani, father of the present chief Sirajuddin, and one of the most important leaders of the Afghan resistance that fought against the Soviet occupation of the country that had started in 1979.
Mainly based in eastern Afghanistan — with alleged bases across the border in Pakistan’s northwest — the group became more visible in the Taliban leadership in recent years, and Sirajuddin was appointed deputy leader in 2015.
The network is considered semi-autonomous while remaining within the Taliban fold because of its financial and military strength and a reputation for ruthlessness. It has also been blamed for some of the deadliest and most shocking attacks in Afghanistan over the last two decades.
Following the airport attack on Thursday, Amrullah Saleh, the “acting president” of Afghanistan, said on Twitter, “every evidence we have in hand shows that IS-K cells have their roots in Taliban & Haqqani network particularly the ones operating in Kabul.”
(With inputs from IANS)