Senior Haqqani Leader Captured

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
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NATO says a joint Afghan and coalition security force has captured the senior Haqqani network leader in Afghanistan. The international alliance says the senior commander was captured Tuesday during an operation in the Paktiya province.

The coalition says Haji Mali Khan, the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani, had established a militant camp in Paktiya province in the past year. NATO described Mali Khan as a “revered elder” of the Haqqani clan.

NATO says Mali Khan managed Haqqani bases and oversaw operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, moving the insurgent forces from Pakistan into Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity.

The alliance say Mali Khan's capture marks a “significant milestone” in the disruption of the Haqqani network.

NATO says Mali Khan was “heavily armed” during the operation that led to his capture, but he surrendered to the security force “without incident or resistance.” Mali Khan's deputy and bodyguard were among the many other insurgents detained in the operation.

The coalition says Mali Khan was an emissary between the late Baitullah Mahsud and senior leaders within the Haqqani leadership. Mahsud, who was killed last year, was the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan top leader who supplied foreign fighters to the Taliban and Haqqani networks. Mahsud has been blamed for the 2007 assassination of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

U.S. officials have long maintained Haqqani militants attack targets in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

Admiral Mike Mullen, when he was chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month the Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has blasted Mullen's comments as a “blame game” and said he categorically denied accusations Pakistan is supporting the Haqqanis or conducting a proxy war in Afghanistan.