New Afghan Interior Minister Haqqani bears $5mn bounty

Advertisement

Top Republican lawmakers hit out at the Taliban over their announcement of an interim government in Afghanistan that includes a specially designated global terrorist, reports Asian Lite News

Named new Interior Minister of the Taliban government in Afghanistan under acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Sirajuddin Haqqani of the infamous Haqqani network is wanted by the US, whose Department of Justice offers a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

A top leader of the Taliban, Haqqani, who is said to be in his 40s, had succeeded his father Jalaluddin Haqqani as the leader of the Haqqani network, which has been charged with some of the most violent attacks in Afghanistan and is designated a terrorist organisation by the US.

As per a poster on the FBI website, he is described as a black-haired man with brown or black eyes, 5 feet 7 inches in height, with a medium build and 150 pounds weight, light and wrinkled complexion and an Arabic speaker.

Said to go under the aliases Siraj, Khalifa, Mohammad Siraj, Sarajadin, Cirodjiddin, Seraj, Arkani, Khalifa (Boss) Shahib, Halifa, Ahmed Zia, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, Siraj Haqqani, Serajuddin Haqani, Siraj Haqani, and Saraj Haqani, the Department of Justice says that he is “wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack at a hotel in Kabul that killed six persons, including an American citizen.

“He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani was also allegedly involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008,” it says, but cautions that he “SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS”.

“The Rewards For Justice Program of the United States Department of State is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani,” it says.

However, Haqqani, in an opinion piece in the New York Times last year before the signing of the Doha agreement, wrote: “For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop.”

Lawmakers slam new Taliban regime

Meanwhile, top lawmakers from the opposition Republican Party on Tuesday hit out at the Taliban over their announcement of an interim government in Afghanistan that includes a specially designated global terrorist.

“Don’t be fooled. There is nothing more moderate about the revived Taliban government. This is a government of terrorists, by the terrorists, and for the terrorists,” said the Republican Study Committee, which is the largest conservative caucus in the House of Representatives and chaired by Congressman Jim Banks.

“The Taliban’s new cabinet comprises former Guantanamo Bay detainees, designated terrorists, and other individuals closely tied to foreign terror groups like Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network,” Congressman Tim Burchett said.

Burchett said the Taliban clearly have no intention of moderating their extreme beliefs and methods of government, and the Biden administration is “foolishly trusting them to keep American citizens and allies safe. President Biden needs to show some strength and let the Taliban know they cannot put Americans in danger or facilitate acts of terror without serious retribution. This is a government of terrorists, by the terrorists, and for the terrorists,” said the Republican.

“President Biden still clings to an insane fantasy that the Taliban is kinder and gentler. It’s nonsense,” said Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Haqqani is the Taliban’s new interior minister for precisely the same reason the FBI’s got a USD 5 million bounty on his head: he’s a bloodthirsty terrorist,” Sasse said.

The Taliban on Tuesday unveiled a hardline interim government led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, with key roles being shared by high-profile members of the insurgent group, including Sirajuddin Haqqani — an especially designated global terrorist of the dreaded Haqqani Network — as the interior minister.

“He’s armed, dangerous, and running a country we just abandoned. Americans are still trapped behind Taliban lines. The Biden administration is still refusing to disclose how many of our people they left behind, and the State Department keeps talking about how they really hope the Taliban will live up to their commitments. Pathetic,” Sasse said.

ALSO READ: Kabul Protest Exposes Pak Miscalculations in Afghanistan