Washington: In a move against the Haqqani network, the US has slapped financial sanctions against three top Taliban leaders, including Nasiruddin Haqqani, a brother of key Taliban leader Sirajudin Haqqani.
The sanctions announced by the Department of Treasury, besides Nasiruddin also target Gul Agha Ishakzai, a top aide of the outlawed organisation`s chief Mullah Omar and Amir Abdullah, former treasurer to senior Taliban leader Mullah Baradar.
The move could be a big setback to Pakistan army which has been cozying up to President Hamid Karzai to involve the Haqqani faction in the proposed new set-up in Afghanistan, post US and NATO withdrawal from the country.
The Treasury Department`s step will freeze the assets of these militants, ban their travel and trigger an arms embargo. The action comes after a senior Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee called for sanctions against the Haqqani network.
Together with US sanctions, the new action prohibits any financial transaction of these terror leaders in member countries of the UN, which is likely to put pressure on Pakistan to initiate operation against the group.
"The sanctions placed on the three leaders as terrorists would deprive them of the assets they need to fund the terror operations," said Adam Szubin, Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control.
"We will continue to aggressively work to expose and dismantle the financial networks of terrorist groups in support of the President`s goal of a stable Afghanistan," Szubin said.
Ishakzai is the head of the Taliban`s financial commission and is part of a recently-created Taliban council that coordinates the collection of zakat from Baluchistan Province. He has collected money for suicide attacks in Kandahar and has been involved in the disbursement of funds for Taliban fighters and their families.
A childhood friend of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, Gul Agha has served as Omar`s principal finance officer and one of his closest advisors. He lived in the presidential palace with Omar during Taliban rule, served as his personal financial secretary and was one of Omar`s closest advisors.
At one time, individuals were not permitted to meet with Mullah Omar unless approved by Gul Agha. Gul Agha traveled in late 2006 to obtain weapon parts and in December 2005 facilitated the movement of people and goods to Taliban training camps in Iran.