WASHINGTON - As Pakistan prepares to hold peace talks with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the United States on Wednesday added three senior Haqqani Network leaders to the list of “Specially Designated Global terrorists”.
In a press release, the US Treasury said Saidullah Jan, Yahya Haqqani and Muhammad Omar Zadran are key figures in the financial and support network of the Haqqani organisation, which the US has long labelled a terror group.
Pakistani national Saidullah Jan has been a Haqqani commander in Afghanistan, a logistical coordinator and a link between the group and Al-Qaeda, the Treasury said.
Yahya Haqqani, also a Pakistani, is brother-in-law to Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani and has stood in as group leader when others were absent, according to the Treasury.
He also at times allegedly serves as a liaison to Al-Qaeda and a coordinator with the Taliban.
Afghan national Zadran has been a Haqqani commander in Afghanistan and has worked closely with Taliban militants there.
“The Haqqani network poses a grave threat to US civilians, military personnel, and our broader interests in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said.
“Where we have the opportunity to disrupt this network and undermine its ability to finance its activities, we will take action. Today’s action underscores our resolve to continue targeting any potential means of support for the Haqqanis. ”As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property under US jurisdiction in which Saidullah Jan, Yahya Haqqani or Muhammad Omar Zadran have an interest are blocked, and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.”
Designating the three as “global terrorists” results in any assets falling under US jurisdiction being frozen, and bans any Americans from doing business with them, he added.
Reuters adds: The Obama administration has been struggling to contain the Haqqani network, which it has blamed for involvement in a number of bold, high-profile attacks on US and Western interests in Afghanistan, for years.
The group is believed to be based in tribal regions of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.
In 2011, the United States’ former top military official, Mike Mullen, made waves by calling the group a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service, ISI. In September 2012, the State Department officially designated the group as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The decision to freeze suspected Haqqani militants’ assets comes as the Obama administration moves to wind down its 12-year-long war in Afghanistan.
This week, President Barack Obama met with senior military commanders to discuss the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Officials have planned to keep a modest U.S. force there after this year, if the Afghan government will agree to sign a bilateral security deal that authorizes a foreign military presence after 2014.