Jalaluddin Haqqani dies at 72: All you need to know about Afghanistan’s most feared militant

New Delhi: Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of Afghanistan’s powerful Haqqani network– one of Afghanistan’s most feared militant groups– has died at the age of 72, the Taliban has announced.

As per reports, the Taliban said that Haqqani, who died after “a long struggle with a disease”, has been buried in Afghanistan.

Who is Jalaluddin Haqqani?

Jalaluddin Haqqani was the most significant militant figure in Afghanistan and also had close ties to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Haqqani was the leader of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group fighting guerrilla warfare initially against US-led NATO forces. Jalaluddin had considerable local popularity on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and was the most experienced Islamist leader in the region.

What is Haqqani network?

  • The group was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan commander who fought for the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, with the help of US and Pakistan. It is believed to have taken over by Jalaluddin’s son Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is the Afghan Taliban’s deputy leader.
  • The extremist group has been blamed for devastating attacks across Afghanistan, after the US invasion.
  • A fluent Arabic speaker, Jalaluddin also had close ties with Arab jihadists, including Osama Bin Laden. He assembled the region during war and became a minister in Taliban regime later.

How HN gained disrepute?

  • Now designated a terrorist group by the US, the Haqqanis are known for their heavy use of suicide bombers.
  • The HN was blamed for the truck bomb deep in the heart of Kabul in May– that killed around 150 people.
  • The network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Westerners for ransom.

CIA’s prized asset

  • Jalaluddin Haqqani was an Afghan guerrilla leader who fought Soviet troops when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. US officials have admitted that, at the time, he was a prized asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
  • However, he later allied himself to the Taliban, after they took power in Afghanistan in 1996. In its statement, the Taliban called Jalaluddin Haqqani an “exemplary warrior and among the great distinguished jihadi personalities of this era”.
  • Jalaluddin gained notoriety for his organisation and bravery, garnering attention from the CIA and a personal visit from US Congressman Charlie Wilson.