Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Friday urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately designate the Haqqani network operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a foreign terrorist organization.
Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees wrote Clinton informing her of their travels to Afghanistan last week, when they met with the country's President Hamid Karzai and others about their concerns related to the militant group.
It was clear that the Haqqani network continues to launch sensational and indiscriminate attacks against U.S. interests in Afghanistan and the group poses a continuing threat to innocent men, women, and children in the region, the letter read.
The letter noted that the Haqqani network must be formally designated as a so-called foreign terrorist organization because it meets the following criteria: It is foreign; it engages in terrorist activity; and those activities threaten the security of U.S. citizens or the national security of the U.S..
Many of the Haqqani network's leaders have been individually listed as terrorists.
Last year, the State Department designated Haqqani network commanders Badruddin Haqqani and Mali Khan under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and anyone supporting either terrorists or acts of terrorism.
The executive order was signed by former President George W. Bush as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. It aims to disrupt the flow of financial and other assistance to terrorists.
The State Department told the Associated Press that Clinton has been reviewing whether the group meets the criteria for being designated a terrorist organization.
When we designate these individuals, it allows us to freeze any U.S.-based assets and to pursue civil and criminal penalties against U.S. individuals who conduct any transactions with them, Victoria Nuland, a State Department representative, said Friday.
The State Department describes the Haqqani network as a Taliban-affiliated group of militants operating in Pakistan. It is believed the group also has ties to al Qaeda. The department said the group has been at the forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, responsible for many high-profile attacks.
According to reports, the Haqqani network has claimed responsibility for many attacks on Americans. It was also blamed for the attacks on the NATO headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last September.
In addition, officials believe U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 26, has been held captive by the Haqqani network for the past three years somewhere in Pakistan.
Read the full letter below:
The Honorable Hillary ClintonSecretary of State2201 C Street, NWWashington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We write to urge the State Department to immediately designate the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Last week, our travel to Afghanistan for meetings with President Karzai, Ambassador Crocker, General Allen, and many military, intelligence, and State Department officers serving in Afghanistan reaffirmed concerns substantiated by intelligence and ouroversight work. It was clear that the Haqqani Network continues to launch sensational and indiscriminate attacks against U.S. interests in Afghanistan and the group poses a continuing threat to innocent men, women, and children in the region.
There is no question that the Haqqani Network meets the following criteria for FTO designation specified in Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act:
- The organization is foreign;
- The organization engages in terrorist activity; and
- The terrorist activity threatens the security of United States citizens or thenational security of the United States.
On November 1, 2011, the State Department wrote that it was engaged in the final formal review on whether to designate the group as a FTO. Six months have now passed, and the Haqqanis have continued to attack U.S. troops and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul during that period.
We understand there may have been reluctance within the Administration to designate the Haqqani Network while Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman attempted to negotiate a reconciliation agreement with the Taliban -- a deal that may have included or affected the Haqqani Network. However, Ambassador Crocker told us last week that there have been no such talks since late last year, and that President Karzai has opposed their continuation.
Without commenting on the appropriateness of any such agreement, it is clear that there is now no reason not to designate the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and urge such action immediately.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter. We look forward to receiving your written response.
Dianne FeinsteinChairman, SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]
Saxby ChamblissVice Chairman, SSCI
Mike RogersChairman, HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence]
C.A. Dutch RuppersbergerRanking Member, HPSCI
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...