Security forces claim to have taken Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid into custody.
Afghan security forces said Thursday they have captured two senior leaders of the feared Haqqani network, a hardline group behind sophisticated attacks on Afghan and NATO forces.
Anas Haqqani, the son of the network’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, was arrested late Tuesday along with Hafiz Rashid, another commander, by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence agency, officials said. “We hope that these two arrests will have direct consequences on the network and their center of command,” said NDS spokesman Haseeb Sediqi.
Anas played an important role in the network’s “strategic decision-making” and frequently travelled to Gulf states to get funding, Sediqi said.
The Haqqanis have been blamed for spectacular attacks on Afghan government and NATO targets across Afghanistan as well as for kidnappings and murders. The Haqqani network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani—an Afghan guerrilla leader bankrolled by the United States to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now in his 70s and frail, he is believed to live with his family in Pakistan.
In the 1980s Jalaluddin was close to the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. He allied himself to the Taliban after they took power in Kabul in 1996, serving as a cabinet minister under the militia’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar. When American troops arrived after the 9/11 attacks, Haqqani sought refuge in North Waziristan and became one of the first anti-U.S. commanders based in the border areas. He has training bases in eastern Afghanistan and is close to Al Qaeda. His fighters are active across east and southeast Afghanistan and in the capital Kabul.
The network is militarily the most capable of the Afghan Taliban factions and operates independently but remains loyal to Mullah Omar.