Commentary Magazine


Entire Haqqani Network Should Be Designated as Terrorists

There are conflicting reports about whether Badruddin Haqqani, a senior commander in the Haqqani network founded by his father Jalaluddin and led by his elder brother Sirajuddin, has been killed in a CIA drone strike in North Waziristan. Afghan and Pakistani intelligence officials believe he is dead, and so does at least one Taliban commander, but another Taliban spokesman denies it. We will see if there is more definitive evidence forthcoming soon.

If he is indeed dead, it is a small but significant victory against the most malign terrorist organization operating in Afghanistan–a group responsible for the worst attacks in Kabul itself. The Long War Journal reports: “Badruddin was also one of several handlers for the fighters involved in the June 28, 2011 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Badruddin was recorded while he issued instructions to one of the fighters, and was heard laughing during the attack that killed 11 civilians and two Afghan policemen as well as nine members of the attack team.”

There is also more than a bit of irony in the whole affair. For while Badruddin and eight other Haqqani family members have been individually designated as global terrorists by the U.S., and they are now apparently being actively hunted by Reaper drones (a very positive and overdue development), the Obama administration still refuses to designate the Haqqani Network as a whole as a terrorist entity, apparently because it hopes to pursue peace talks with the Haqqanis. (Why the terrorist designation can’t simply be lifted if talks get somewhere–a very unlikely eventuality–remains a mystery.)

Congress got so frustrated with this nonsensical state of affairs–how can the U.S. government kill senior Haqqanis but not call their organization a terrorist entity?–that it passed legislation, signed by President Obama on August 10, that gives the administration 30 days to either designate the Haqqanis or explain why it refuses to do so. Those 30 days will expire soon so we can hope to have some greater clarity on the U.S. position vis a vis the Haqqanis. There is quite simply no excuse not to call the Haqqanis by their rightful name: terrorists.