The U.S. State Department on Wednesday doubled the cash reward for information leading to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the extremist Haqqani network believed to be hiding in the border areas of Pakistan.
Under the Rewards for Justice program, the Obama administration has increased the bounty for Haqqani from $5 million to $10 million. In addition, the names of his brother Aziz Haqqani, uncle Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, brother in-law Yahya Haqqani, and Abdul Rauf Zakir have been added against bounties of $5 million each. Haqqani’s relatives are senior members of the militant outfit, while Zakir is believed to head the group’s suicide operations cell.
Sirajuddin Haqqani currently leads the Haqqani network after taking over from his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who founded it. In 2008, the State Department designated the younger Haqqani as a Global Terrorist, and four years later outlawed his group.
Formed in the 1970s, the Haqqani network is allied with Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and reportedly based in Pakistan’s tribal badlands near the Afghan border. The militants have often been accused of staging attacks on U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan before fleeing into Pakistan. In September 2011, it staged one of its most audacious attacks when it engaged in a 19-hour assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that resulted in seven deaths.
Pakistan’s armed forces are currently on the offensive in North Waziristan, and a recent statement by the U.S. government urged Islamabad to ensure the displaced Haqqani network would not regroup and resettle in Pakistan. Islamabad insists its operation, launched in June, will not discriminate and target all militants, including the Haqqani network.