New Delhi: The US State Department on Friday said that terrorist groups Taliban and Haqqani Network are two separate entities despite there being close links between them.
When asked during a press briefing to share information regarding the security of Kabul airport with the Taliban and whether it was extended to the Haqqani Network. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that those were two separate entities.
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Though Ned Price has denied any connections, it is reported that the Taliban and the Haqqani Network share strong links. The US first designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organisation in 2012.
According to an ANI report, the National Counter-terrorism Center said the Haqqanis “is considered the most lethal and sophisticated terror group targeting US, Coalition, and Afghan forces” and added that the Haqqani Network was considered a terrorist group “because of its involvement in the Afghan insurgency, attacks on US military and civilian personnel and Western interests in Afghanistan, and because of its ties to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”
The New York Times reported, Pakistani protege Khalil Haqqani, who is now one of the new rulers of Afghanistan, has a USD 5 million reward since the US designated him a terrorist 10 years ago. He is also a regular visitor to Pakistan’s military headquarters in Rawalpindi. He is known to the American intelligence as the Taliban emissary to Al Qaeda.
Khalil Haqqani turned up in Kabul last week as their new chief of security, armed with an American-made M4 rifle, a protection squad dressed in American combat gear.
Douglas London, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief for South and Southwest Asia said that the connection between the Pakistanis and the Haqqani was indisputable and indispensable to the Taliban takeover.
The Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Al Qaeda are intertwined in Afghanistan, with the Taliban integrating Haqqani Network leaders and terrorists with Al Qaeda links into its command structure. Moreover, the splinter group of ISIS, the IS – Khorasan or ISIS-K who had claimed Kabul airport blast, has long clashed with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, claiming Taliban rule is illegitimate.
The US has relied upon the Taliban to maintain security checkpoints around Kabul’s airport. It is noteworthy, that the Central Command leader General Frank McKenzie on Thursday said that the US would continue to ask the Taliban to assist with security, saying he hadn’t seen evidence the Taliban let the attack occur.