Archive for the ‘Haqqani Network’ category

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years

October 12, 2017

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years, Washington Free Beacon, October 12, 2017

Caitlan Coleman and family in a Taliban proof of life video / Screenshot via YouTube

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorist groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.

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The government of Pakistan, under pressure from President Trump to do more against Islamic terrorism, secured the release of an American mother and her family after five years captivity at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband, and three children, including a very young child, were freed from control of the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network terrorist group Wednesday night and were in Pakistani government custody awaiting transfer to American officials.

The years’ long hostage case was resolved after the Islamabad government notified the U.S. government several days ago it had located the family and was close to securing their release.

“We’re tremendously grateful to the government of Pakistan for securing the release of Caitlan Coleman and her family,” said a senior official.

“The relationship with Pakistan has had its challenges but this is exactly the kind of action that will put the relationship on the right track. This could be a new beginning.”

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorists groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said in the Aug. 21 speech.

Trump said Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States in Afghanistan and “much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

The president said in his speech that Pakistan had sheltered terrorist organizations that were killing Americans. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said.

“But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” Trump said.

Coleman, her husband Josua Boyle, and two of her children were last heard of during a proof-of-life video made public in December in which she urged then-President Obama to secure their release before leaving office.

Officials said a robust U.S. diplomatic effort in support of Coleman has been under way for the past several months and gained momentum when the Pakistani government contacted U.S. officials to say they had located the family and were arranging for their release.

The family was held as hostages by the Haqqani Network, a faction of the Islamist Taliban terror group currently the target of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

They were captured in 2012 while hiking in Wardak Province, near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time with their first child.

Officials said the location of the family that includes three small children, had been the subject of intensive U.S. intelligence and military operations.

“We’d only been able to get very few indications of where they were located,” said one U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The Haqqani Network is believed to have kept the family in isolation in the remote border region of Waziristan, located along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the Director of National Intelligence, the Haqqani Network is a Sunni Islamist terror group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who first emerged during the 1980s as an Afghan warlord opposing the Soviet Union.

Haqqani was part of the Hezb-e Islami faction headed by mujahedin commander Younis Khalis.

Haqqani was an associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin and was regarded as a close mentor to bin Ladin, according to the DNI.

The Haqqani network is currently headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son.

The main operating area for the group is North Waziristan, Pakistan.

“The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan; they typically conduct coordinated small-arms assaults coupled with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide attacks, and attacks using bomb-laden vehicles,” the DNI said.

In the video made public in December, Coleman said her family’s captivity was “Kafkaesque” and that her children had witnessed their mother being defiled.

In the video, she was shown with two children. U.S. officials said the family now has a very young third child, who is being released.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” said Coleman stated in the video. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”

The reference to Carter likely was meant as the failed efforts of Carter to secure the release of American hostages held captive in Iran from 1979 to 1980.

The New York Times reported in December that efforts to broker the release of Coleman were set back as the result of an American military drone strike that killed an Afghan Taliban leader in May 2016.

The Times reported that the Haqqani network had demanded the release of one of its commanders, Anas Haqqani, captured by Afghanistan’s government in 2014.

At least two other Americans reportedly are being held hostage by the Haqqanis.

US drone strikes ‘against spirit of ongoing cooperation,’ Pakistani Army chief says

June 15, 2017

US drone strikes ‘against spirit of ongoing cooperation,’ Pakistani Army chief says, Long War Journal, June 15, 2017

Bajwa insists that all the US needs to do is share intelligence, and the Pakistan military will handle the problem on its own. Yet it is well documented that when the US has given intelligence on groups such as the Haqqani Network, Pakistani officials have passed it along to the terrorists.

Pakistan often views many of these strikes as counterproductive because the US is killing leaders from their pet jihadist groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group. Pakistani government and military officials have denounced strikes that have killed top leaders from these groups, which are known as “good Taliban” because they don’t actively oppose the Pakistani state. The irony is the good Taliban support the “bad Taliban,” which do fight the Pakistani state.

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Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said today that US drone strikes and other unilateral actions “are against spirit of ongoing cooperation” and that any intelligence on terrorist whereabouts should be forwarded to the army for action. Bajwa made the statement despite the fact that Pakistani officials have routinely passed along actionable intelligence to terrorists to help them avoid raids, as well as supposed “counterproductive” drone strikes have historically been effective in killing scores of top tier terrorist leaders.

Bajwa’s view on drone strikes were summarized in an Inter-Services public relations press release that was issued on June 14, just one day after the US killed a Haqqani network leader and two of his deputies in an attack in Pakistan’s northwestern district of Hangu. From the ISPR press release:

COAS [Chief of Army Staff Bajwa] said that unilateral actions like drone strike etc are counterproductive and against spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan. Pakistan Army is capable of taking effective measure if actionable intelligence is shared. He said that our focus now is to transform our operational achievements in FATA into enduring peace and stability for which early mainstreaming of FATA through reforms is essential and Pakistan Army fully supports all efforts towards that end.

Bajwa’s statement is astounding for many reasons, two of which will be addressed below:

When the US shared “actionable intelligence,” it has been passed along to jihadist leaders

Bajwa insists that all the US needs to do is share intelligence, and the Pakistan military will handle the problem on its own. Yet it is well documented that when the US has given intelligence on groups such as the Haqqani Network, Pakistani officials have passed it along to the terrorists. The Washington Post detailed two such incidents, when, in June 2011, the US passed along information to Pakistani officials on an al Qaeda facility in South Waziristan and a Haqqani Network bomb factory at a girls school in North Waziristan. Unsurprisingly, when Pakistani forces arrived, the two locations were empty.

The US has continued its drone program because the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate, could not be trusted.

Pakistan’s duplicity when it comes to supporting terrorist organizations in the region is well known. The Afghan Taliban would be a shadow of itself without the support and safe haven provided by the Pakistani government.

“Counterproductive” strikes have killed far more top tier leaders in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan than the Pakistani military

US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed more than 120 top tier jihadist leaders and operatives in the 396 recorded strikes in Pakistan since the program began in 2004. The jihadists killed come from a host of groups, including al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban its subgroup, the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Turkistan Islamic Party, Hizb Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhagvi, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group (FDD’s Long War Journal maintains a list, here).

Pakistan often views many of these strikes as counterproductive because the US is killing leaders from their pet jihadist groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group. Pakistani government and military officials have denounced strikes that have killed top leaders from these groups, which are known as “good Taliban” because they don’t actively oppose the Pakistani state. The irony is the good Taliban support the “bad Taliban,” which do fight the Pakistani state.

Oddly enough, Pakistani officials even protest when the US kills members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which has killed tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers in terrorist attacks and during its decade long insurgency in Pakistan’s northwest. Despite the fact that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is a mortal enemy of the state, the Pakistani military has a paltry record in killing top tier leaders of the group. But US drone strikes have taken out key leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, including:

Hakeemullah Mehsud: Baitullah’s successor
Waliur Rehman Mehsud: Hakeemullah’s deputy and head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in South Waziristan
Qari Hussain Mehsud: the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s suicide operations and director of suicide camps
Wali Mohammed: the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s suicide operations
Ibn Amin: a Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan military commander in Swat who was also a senior al Qaeda leader

These men were directly responsible for murdering numerous Pakistani civilians and soldiers, and had eluded Pakistani intelligence and military operations for years before they were killed by the US drone program. The killing of these top leaders even led to a schism within the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan for more than a year before the group could reorganize, with divisions that remain to this day.

Pakistani military and government officials have showed their gratitude by condemning most of these strikes.

However, despite Pakistan’s denouncement of the strikes, there is little the nation can do to halt them, short of deploying its air force and shooting down the US aircraft. In the past, the Pakistani government shut down NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in protest of the US raids. However, the US continued to target and kill top level jihadist leaders in cross-border attacks. The number of US drone strikes have decreased drastically from 117 during the peak year of 2010 to just three in 2016 and four so far this year.

Pakistani objections and international criticism have at times caused the US to halt the strikes, but only for a short period of time. Even though the US hates the optics of unilateral strikes on foreign territory without warning, the US has not reduced the number of strikes in 2016 and 2017 because of fear of retribution from Pakistan or international condemnation. Instead, the reduction can be attributed to several things: the US has shifted some resources and assets to other theaters to target al Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen, as well as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; and US intelligence incorrectly assessed al Qaeda’s presence in the region as diminished.