Despite close links between the Taliban and the proscribed outfit Haqqani Network, the US State Department on Friday (local time) said that they are two separate entities.
During a press briefing, when US State Department spokesperson Ned Price was asked about sharing information regarding the security of Kabul airport with the Taliban and whether it was extended to Haqqani Network, Price replied, “The Taliban and Haqqani Network are two separate entities.”
Despite his denial, it is reported that the Taliban and the Haqqani Network share strong links. The US first designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist group in 2012.
The National Counterterrorism Center said the Haqqanis “is considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting US, Coalition, and Afghan forces” and said the Haqqani Network was considered a terrorist group “because of its involvement in the Afghan insurgency, attacks on US military and civilian personnel and Western interests in Afghanistan, and because of its ties to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”
A Pakistani protege, Khalil Haqqani, who has a USD 5 million reward after the US designated him a terrorist 10 years ago is a regular visitor to Pakistan’s military headquarters in Rawalpindi, is one of the new rulers of Afghanistan, reported The New York Times.
Known to American intelligence as the Taliban emissary to Al Qaeda, Khalil Haqqani showed up in Kabul last week as their new chief of security, brazenly armed with an American-made M4 rifle, with a protection squad dressed in American combat gear.
The nexus between the Pakistanis and the victorious Haqqani was indisputable and indispensable to the Taliban victory, said Douglas London, a former CIA counterterrorism chief for South and Southwest Asia.
The members of the Haqqani family had prominent positions inside the Taliban. In fact, the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Al Qaeda are deeply intertwined in Afghanistan, with the Taliban integrating Haqqani Network leaders and fighters with Al Qaeda links into its command structure.
Moreover, the splinter group of Islamic State, (Islamic State – Khorasan) ISIS-K who had claimed Kabul airport blast, has long clashed with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, claiming Taliban rule is illegitimate.
The US has relied upon the Taliban to maintain security checkpoints around Kabul’s airport. Central Command leader General Frank McKenzie said Thursday the US would continue to ask the Taliban to assist with security, saying he hadn’t seen evidence the Taliban let the attack occur.