US House to consider designating Haqqani network as FTO
Washington: A bill dubbing the Pakistan- based dreaded Haqqani network the "most dangerous" Afghan insurgent group" and seeking its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) is set to be taken up by the US House of Representatives.
The Haqqani network is believed to be responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against US facilities inside Afghanistan.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2011 would be considered by lawmakers on the House floor today.
The proposed legislation says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should declare the Haqqani network a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).
Last year, Clinton had announced the State Department was working on designation of the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organisation. A number of its leaders have already been slapped with sanctions.
A State Department official yesterday said the foreign terrorist organisation designation of the Haqqani network would still take some time.
"I don't have anything specific for you on the pending legislation other than to say you know that we have designated a large range of the top leadership of this network, and they feel the full brunt and force of US sanctions. We continue to review the wider designation issue and we'll apply all applicable laws as we review that," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
According to the proposed legislation, a report of the Congressional Research Service on relations between the US and Pakistan states that "the terrorist network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, based in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area), is commonly identified as the most dangerous of Afghan insurgent groups battling US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan."
The report further states that, in mid-2011, the Haqqanis undertook several high-visibility attacks in Afghanistan.
First, a late June assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul by eight Haqqani gunmen and suicide bombers left 18 people dead. Then, on September 10, a truck bomb attack on a United States military base by Haqqani militants in the Wardak province injured 77 US troops and killed 5 Afghans.
A September 13 attack on the US embassy compound in Kabul involved an assault that sparked a 20-hour-long gun battle and left 16 Afghans dead, 5 police officers and at least 6 children among them.
The report further states that "US and Afghan officials concluded the Embassy attackers were members of the Haqqani network."
In a September 2011 testimony before the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had stated that "the Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.