Tuesday, May 31, 2016


U.S. drone strike killed Taliban Leader Mullah Akhtar Monsour
         Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Monsour was recently killed in a U.S. drone strike when he stopped for lunch in the Pakistan province of Balochsta. U.S. intelligence agencies no doubt tracked him there since he left Iran a few hours before and drove for hundreds of kilometers along a deserted, dusty road. Monsour’s death epitomizes America’s shifting camaraderie with the Pakistan government and the Taliban-Haqqani partnership that prolongs the unending war in Afghanistan.

     During his reign as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus believed the Pakistan government would go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network, but he later changed his stance. After analyzing incoming intelligence, Petraeus warned that the U.S. needs to be cautious with Pakistan’s ability and willingness to topple the Taliban leaders in Balochistan.
     Monsour’s death in Baluchistan verifies Petraeus’ warning was apposite. While Pakistan’s foreign ministry declared the drone strike a violation of their sovereignty, the Taliban and Haqqni warriors from Balochsta continue to slip across the nearby Afghanistan border and attack U.S. coalition and Afghan forces.
     In all fairness, Pakistan has confronted a number of extremist organizations, including al Qaeda. But, the Taliban/Haqqani network remains entrenched inside Pakistan.

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     So, why does this network remain so powerful? Why do they pursue their mission with such vigor without a robust retaliation from the Pakistani government? The answer lies in their creation, which began in Afghanistan during the mid-1970s when they were cultivated by the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI.
 During the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani lead the group, which operated on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. officials believe the network is actually based in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal frontier region. Not surprisingly, the Haqqani Network grew interconnected with the Taliban.
    The Pentagon describes the Haqqani group as "the most resilient enemy network" and one of the biggest threats to both the U.S.-led coalition forces and the Afghan government.
     The Haqqani family has an interesting history. They hail from southeastern Afghanistan and belong to the Mezi clan of the Zadran Pashtun tribe. Jalalludin Haqqani rose to prominence as a senior military leader during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and was successful at forging relationships with outsiders who were prepared to resist the Soviets, including the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and wealthy Arab private donors from the Persian Gulf. In the late 1980s, Jalalludin Haqqani had full support from the CIA.
     In 1994, foreign jihadists recognized the network as a distinct entity. It was at a time when Haqqani was not affiliated with the Taliban. His relationship with them blossomed when they captured Kabul and assumed de facto control of the country. It was when the Taliban came to power in 1996 and began their atrocities that Haqqani accepted a cabinet level appointment as Minister of Tribal Affairs…the Taliban/Haqqani nexus was solidified.
     After the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban government, the Haqqanis fled into the Pakistani bordering tribal regions and regrouped to fight against coalition forces from across the border.
     As Jalaluddin grew older, his son Sirajuddin took over the responsibility of military operations. Pakistani President Hamid Karzai invited the elder Haqqani to serve as Prime Minister in an attempt to bring "moderate" Taliban fighters into the government, but Jalaluddin refused the offer.
    Thus, the close connection between the Haqqani network and the Taliban was forged and continues to flourish today. How influential was Jalaluddin Haqqani? There are documents which support the claim that he had visited the White House during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
     Should we celebrate last week’s drone strike that blew Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour to bits on a lonely road in Pakistan? Perhaps not, for the tight relationship that forged decades ago between the Haqqani leaders and the Taliban may result in Sirajuddin Haqqani becoming Mansour’s successor.
     This most dangerous warlord has mastered the art of asymetric warfare. His Haqqani network is considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group on record, conducting coordinated small-arms ambushes in conjunction with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide assaults and strikes from bomb-laden vehicles.
     If Sirajuddin Haqqani takes over, expect an even more merciless assault on Afghan forces and the remaining U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Our Pick for Further Reading

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes  the online spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean." Contact him on the Secure Contact Form

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