HN is lead by Sirajuddin Haqqani. HN’s previous leader, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani’s father, was killed in 2014 according to informed Western intelligence sources.
HN’s operations are conducted at the tribal and sub-tribal level with direction from and the logistical support of HN’s command cadre.
HN successfully recruited from among Afghan Muslims and was among the first Islamic militant groups to integrate non-Afghan Muslims into its ranks. By the late 2000s, HN was estimated to have between 4,000 and 15,000 fighters.
Throughout the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989), HN was funded by anti-Soviet forces including the US Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and private donors from the Persian Gulf including Saudi Arabia, which gave HN access to American weapons, intelligence, and military training.
HN was formally affiliated with the Taliban after the latter captured Kabul in 1996. HN is still allied with the Taliban, from which it derives financial and material support. After the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, HN retreated to the Pakistani border region – specifically, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Northern Pakistan – where it regrouped to carry out attacks against coalition forces.
US government officials have regularly accused Pakistan and the ISI of harboring and collaborating with HN.
HN also gathers funding from extortion, kidnapping, and smuggling operations in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces.
HN was founded in the mid 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a Pashtun tribesman who hailed from the madrasas (Islamic religious schools) of Pakistan and fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
HN was loosely based around familial and tribal ties and was not recognized by other jihadi groups as a distinct or independent militant organization until 1994.
HN attempted to assassinate former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on numerous occasions.
November 2008: HN kidnapped David Rohde, an American author and investigative journalist for Thomson Reuters.
September 2011: A truck bomb exploded outside Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in Wardak, Afghanistan, which killed five Afghans, including four civilians, and wounded 77 US soldiers, 14 Afghan civilians, and three policemen.
June 2012: HN militants attempted to detonate suicide vests after breaching the perimeter of US Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost, Afghanistan, but were killed by US forces.
HN is ideologically aligned with numerous Islamic extremist groups in terms of their radical interpretations of Islam.
HN and al-Qaeda militants have maintained close ties since the mid 1970s and share common tactics and strategies. Where HN differs from al-Qaeda is in its intended sphere of influence; where al-Qaeda seeks to promulgate Islamic extremism globally, HN’s focus in regional.
Like the Taliban, HN seeks to eradicate western influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the broader Middle East, as well as restructure the government of Afghanistan into an Islamic state under Sharia law.
HN also seeks to disrupt US and NATO military operations in Afghanistan by sowing political instability in regions that are under coalition control.
HN demands that US and NATO forces stop interfering with the politics and educational systems of Islamic nations.
Improvised explosive devices, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, assassination, extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, and firearm attacks.
Updated on January 13, 2016.
- “Mapping Militant Organizations: Haqqani Network.” Stanford University. Last modified May, 2015. Accessed December 16, 2015. https://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/363
- Jeffrey Dressler. “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat.” Institute for the Study of War. Last modified 2010. Accessed December 16, 2015. http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf