New York: In the wake of increasing US’ pressure on Islamabad to move more forcefully against Taliban networks operating on its border, Pakistan has arrested the son of feared insurgent leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to Taliban and Pakistani government sources.
Nasiruddin Haqqani, whose jihadist code name is Dr Khan, was reportedly travelling by car with four fellow militants - including senior Haqqani commander Mullah Muhammad Jan - from the city of Peshawar to North Waziristan, when Pakistani agents picked him up, reports Newsweek.
The Taliban sources said that Nasiruddin and his companions were arrested just as they were returning from the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, a trip that also had included substantial fundraising activities, it added.
According to Afghan Taliban sources, Nasiruddin was a frequent visitor to the Gulf- travelling on various Pakistani passports- as he raised large cash donations to fund jihadi activities against the US military in Afghanistan.
The arrest of the Nasiruddin is significant, as he is reportedly the Haqqani network’s key fundraiser and financial operative in the Middle East, and his capture could severely hamper fundraising for the insurgent network, the report said.
“It is a serious blow to the Haqqanis’ financial network,” the report quoted one Afghan Taliban source, who declined to be named for security reasons, as saying.
Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), is believed to be close to the Haqqani network and to other Taliban groups as well. The arrest, observers say, may be an attempt by Pakistan to gain more credibility with the US, even if the government isn’t about to launch a full-scale offensive into North Waziristan, said the report.
“The message is very clear,” said one Taliban commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Be careful, we can arrest anyone of you at any time.”
Pakistani officials have remained silent about Nasiruddin’s arrest, although a senior Pakistani government official did confirm his capture.
He also confirmed that the US had not been informed of the arrest, adding that the insurgent leader had been picked up to serve as a “hostage” in Pakistan’s effort to try to exert more control over the jihadist group.
According to the report, Nasiruddin and the other prisoners have been moved to an ISI-run safe house where they will be held and interrogated, said Pakistani sources, adding that it is unlikely that US intelligence will get access to Nasiruddin, largely because he could reveal just how closely the Haqqanis are linked to the ISI and other Pakistan intelligence agencies.