- A Taliban spokesperson confirmed the death this morning of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of one of the Taliban’s most sophisticated networks in Afghanistan.
- The Haqqani network was once considered instrumental in assisting the U.S. in fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
- In the current conflict, the network is also considered responsible for multiple, highly profile kidnappings, including Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of one of the Taliban’s most sophisticated networks and a former US ally, died this morning, according to an Associated Press report. The Haqqani network, once instrumental in the US’s campaign to help Afghans defeat the Soviet Union, is considered responsible for the kidnappings of multiple American and Canadian citizens.
Haqqani was a lifelong friend of Osama bin Laden, and his network, declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2012, became one of Afghanistan’s “most experienced and sophisticated insurgent operations,” according to the Institute for the Study of War.
According to a report published by the institute, Haqqani’s rise to infamy began in the 1970s and became solidified in the ’80s, when he gained power and influence as a leader of the anti-Soviet movement. His friendship with Bin Laden also formed during this era, when Haqqani supervised training grounds of the newly-formed al-Qaeda. It was during this era that he became a US asset; seen as an ally in the U.S. effort to counter the Soviet threat in Afghanistan, he was described as “goodness personified” by then-Congressman Charlie Wilson.
As relations between the U.S. and the Taliban shifted, Haqqani passed control of his network to his son, Siraj. Under the younger Haqqani, the network reportedly perpetrated multiple highly publicized kidnappings, including New York Times reporter David Rohde, American University professor Kevin King, and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
According to the Associated Press report, rumors of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death had been circulating since 2015. His death this morning was confirmed via telephone by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahed, who hailed Haqqani as both a “religious scholar and exemplary warrior.”