Who is Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan's new interior minister?

Prominent Taliban member is the head of a militant group wanted by the FBI

The Taliban announced its new Cabinet on Tuesday, including UN-sanctioned and wanted men.

Afghanistan’s new acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, appears on the FBI's most wanted list with a reward of $10 million for his capture.

So who is he and how did he rise to prominence in the group?

Who is Sirajuddin Haqqani?

Mr Haqqani is head of the Haqqani network, a militant group linked to the Taliban which was behind some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan’s 20-year war.

He has followed in the footsteps of his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who established the network in the 1980s and became a hero of the anti-Soviet resistance.

He took over the reins of the group in 2018 after the elder Haqqani's death, three years after becoming the Taliban's deputy leader.

Mr Haqqani and the network are based primarily in eastern Afghanistan, with critics claiming the group also has bases across the border in Pakistan.

The official is wanted by the FBI for questioning "in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul … that killed six people, including an American citizen".

The FBI also claims he was behind several attacks on US forces stationed in Afghanistan.

“He is believed to have co-ordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on former Afghan president Hamid Karzai in 2008,” according to the FBI profile.

Mr Haqqani wrote an op-ed in The New York Times last year, outlining the Taliban's position on the US talks and the conflict in Afghanistan, albeit in diplomatic tones that belied the militant group's violent reputation.

What is the Haqqani network?

A UN monitor said the Haqqani network has significantly contributed to the Taliban's fighting ranks and constitutes the group's most "combat-ready forces".

In the 1980s, Sirajuddin Haqqani's father Jalaluddin was a valuable CIA asset as the US and its allies, such as Pakistan, funnelled arms and money to the mujahideen.

The network is considered semi-autonomous, while remaining within the Taliban fold.

The Haqqani network has been suspected of having ties with the Pakistani military establishment. US Admiral Mike Mullen described them as a "veritable arm" of Islamabad's intelligence in 2011.

Pakistan denies the allegation.

Other ministers in the government include Prime Minister Hassan Akhund, who is on the UN’s terrorist list.

Updated: September 8th 2021, 12:53 PM
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