Who is Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan Minister and FBI's 'most wanted'?
Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has long featured on various terror lists and carries up to a $10 million bounty on his head, is the new Interior Minister of the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan. He and his organization, the Haqqani Network, have been accused of carrying out some of the deadliest attacks during the 20-year-long war with the West. Here's what is known about him.
Haqqani was born in the 1970s, FBI says
Haqqani is believed to have been born in either Afghanistan or Pakistan between 1973 and 1980, according to the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is a deputy leader of the Taliban and the chief of the Haqqani Network, which the US designated as a terrorist organization in 2012. He is also said to maintain close ties with the al-Qaeda.
Haqqani Network was founded by his father, Jalaluddin
The Haqqani Network is a semi-independent group affiliated to the Taliban. It was founded by Sirajuddin's father, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The elder Haqqani handed over the leadership before his death in 2018. "The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting US, Coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan," according to the US Director of National Intelligence.
Haqqani features on the FBI's most wanted list
Haqqani features on the FBI's most wanted list, and the US Department of State has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest, according to the investigation agency's website. He is wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Afghan capital Kabul that killed six people, including an American citizen.
Haqqani Network allegedly behind several deadly attacks
The Haqqani Network is also blamed for an attack on the US embassy and the NATO bases in Kabul in September 2011. Eight people - four police officers and four civilians - were killed in that attack. "Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on (former) Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008," as per the FBI.
US considers Taliban and Haqqani Network 'separate entities'
Ironically, the US State Department had last month said it considers the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as two separate groups. "The Taliban and Haqqani Network are two separate entities," Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing.
Taliban announces first members of its interim government
Meanwhile, the Taliban announced some members of its interim government on Tuesday, comprising all men and excluding non-Taliban leaders. Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, seemingly a compromise candidate between rival factions of the group, has been named the interim Prime Minister and Abdul Ghani Baradar his deputy. Further, Mullah Yaqoob, the son of slain Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, will serve as the interim Defense Minister.