Sirajuddin Haqqani’s appointment as Afghanistan’s interior minister in the “acting” government announced by the Taliban on Tuesday is indicative of a greater role for the UN and US-designated terror group. In 2020, the Taliban released an hour-long documentary to honour Sirajuddin’s father and Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani. Jalaluddin, a trusted aide of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Umar, was a veteran of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet occupation during the 1980s. He is also said to have had closes ties with slain al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. He was a key member of Taliban’s powerful decision-making body Rehbari Shura, until his death in 2018. According to US intelligence, with a widespread network in tribal areas of Pakistan and patronage of the country’s powerful spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the Haqqani Network played a critical role in the resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan over the recent years.

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The Haqqani Network is currently headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s ‘most wanted’ list and carries a $10 million bounty after being declared a “specially designated global terrorist” with close ties to al Qaeda by the United States. Before its merger with the Taliban in 1995,  a year before they seized power in Afghanistan, the Haqqanis enjoyed immense support from US intelligence agencies, so much so that the country’s former president Ronald Reagan called Jalaluddin a “freedom fighter.”

US Congressman, Charlie Wilson, who spearheaded the country’s covert support to mujahideen groups in their fight against the Soviets, referred to Jalaluddin as “goodness personified”. 

Sirajuddin Haqqani is accused of masterminding several attacks in Afghanistan, including one on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008 that killed 58 people. He has also been linked to the January 2008 attack on a Kabul hotel that killed six people, including an American citizen, and an assassination plot against then Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in 2008, according to the FBI.

Sirajuddin’s uncle Khalil Haqqani, also a specially designated global terrorist with alleged close ties to al-Qaeda, has also been handed an important position in the interim Taliban government as minister for refugees. The US State Department has announced a reward of up to $ 5 million for information that brings Khali to “justice.”

Sirajuddin’s brother Anas Haqqani is said to have acted as a key fundraiser, financier and operational commander for the Haqqani Network. Anas, who has served as a negotiator for the Taliban, was released in 2019 by Afghan government in exchange for the release of hostages held by the Taliban.

The deputy intelligence chief of the Taliban government, Mullah Taj Mir Jawad, is also considered to be a close aide of the the Haqqanis.