A senior leader of the al-Qaeda- and Taliban-supported Haqqani network was captured in Afghanistan, NATO said Saturday.
NATO captured Haji Mali Khan Tuesday in an operation near the Pakistani border, in the Jani Khel district of Paktika Province.
Khan is the brother of the Haqqani network's founder and the Taliban's Tribal Affairs Minister, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and he is the uncle of the network's present leader Sirajuddin Siraj Haqqani. Haji Mali Khan was one of the highest ranking members of the network, which raided Soviet troops from North Waziristan in the 1980s.
In the past month, the network organized many attacks in the country, including a 20-hour siege of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.
A statement released by the International Security Assistance Force said that although Khan was heavily armed during the operation that led to his capture, he surrendered without incident or resistance.
Multiple additional insurgents were detained during the security operation, including Khan's deputy and bodyguard.
The capture of Haji Mali Khan marks a significant milestone in the disruption of the Haqqani network, the statement added.
Mali Khan was strongly supported by the Taliban, and he served as an emissary between Baitullah Mahsud and senior leaders within the Haqqani leadership. Before he was killed last year, Mahsud was the Tehrik-i-Taliban Student Movement of Pakistan, alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, a top leader who provided foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, to the Taliban and Haqqani networks.
Security forces have conducted more than 500 operations so far in 2011 in an effort to disrupt the Haqqani network leadership, resulting in the death of 20 network facilitators and the capture of nearly 300 insurgent leaders and 1,300 suspected Haqqani insurgents.