Lawmaker hopes Haqqani network will soon be an FTO

A top US lawmaker hopes that with Obama signing into law a bill passed by Congress on the Haqqani network, the outfit as a FTO will now be a reality.

Updated: Aug 14, 2012, 10:58 AM IST

Washington: A top US lawmaker has expressed hope that with President Barack Obama signing into law a bill passed by Congress on the dreaded Haqqani network, the designation of the outfit as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) will now become a reality.

"I am pleased that the President signed the bill into law, and I hope that this will be a step toward designating the Haqqani network as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO)," said Mike Rogers, Chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, holding the Pakistan-based outfit responsible for "killing hundreds of US troops in Afghanistan".

President Obama had signed the bill on August 10.

The Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 requires Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to determine within 30 days whether the Haqqani network meets the legal criteria to be designated as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Rogers also urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "call a spade a spade" and take necessary action in this regard.

An official FTO designation is a critical step allowing the US to more aggressively undermine the terrorist network`s support.

The State Department, which has slapped sanctions against some of the key leaders of the network, has so far resisted the move to designate it as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had publicly announced late last year that sanctions against the outfit were on their way, the State Department is yet to any official announcement in this regard and maintains that the process is on.

Early this month, a report by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) of the United States Military Academy (USMA), a prestigious New York-based institution, had said the Haqqani Network had continued to receive financial and logistic support from Pakistan military.

"In addition to private donors, the network has continued to receive financial and logistical support from the Pakistan military, and continues to maintain close operational ties with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)," the report, authored by eminent journalist Gretchen Peters, said.

The report said the historical communication logs between the Haqqani network and the ISI, which are now publicly available, suggested a link between the two.

It, however noted that the relationship between Haqqani network and the ISI is not that smooth and very often, there is friction between the two.

"Islamabad has repeatedly and vigorously denied it provides material or logistical support to the Haqqani network. However, Pakistan has resisted US pressure to launch military operations against the Haqqanis," the report said.

It also cited the then CIA Director Leon Panetta`s confrontation with his counterpart in the ISI over evidence that Pakistani authorities had alerted Haqqani members ahead of a raid on an IED factory in North Waziristan.

"On the business side, it is hard to imagine that war supplies and other smuggled commodities, not to mention the funds that pay for them, pass through the remote North Waziristan agency, where all roads are manned by Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army checkpoints, without the collusion or at least tacit approval of the Pakistani government," it said.

The Haqqani network has a massive network of legal and illicit businesses which mirrors a mafia operation and in addition to raising funds from ideologically like-minded donors, the network, over the past three decades, has penetrated into key business sectors like import-export, transport, real estate and construction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Gulf and beyond, the report said.

"The network`s resiliency can be credited as much to military prowess as to the Haqqanis` capacity to network with Pakistan`s ISI directorate, other militant groups (in particular al Qaeda), and key religious figures," it said.