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  1. #1

    The Sopranos of Afghanistan


    The Haqqani network attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from this building.

    September 24, 2011
    Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan
    By MARK MAZZETTI, SCOTT SHANE and ALISSA J. RUBIN
    This article was written by Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane and Alissa J. Rubin.

    WASHINGTON — They are the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war, a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking. They have trafficked in precious gems, stolen lumber and demanded protection money from businesses building roads and schools with American reconstruction funds.

    They safeguard their mountainous turf by planting deadly roadside bombs and shelling remote American military bases. And they are accused by American officials of being guns for hire: a proxy force used by the Pakistani intelligence service to carry out grisly, high-profile attacks in Kabul and throughout the country.

    Today, American intelligence and military officials call the crime clan known as the Haqqani network — led by a wizened militant named Jalaluddin Haqqani who has allied himself over the years with the C.I.A., Saudi Arabia’s spy service and Osama bin Laden — the most deadly insurgent group in Afghanistan. In the latest of a series of ever bolder strikes, the group staged a daylong assault on the United States Embassy in Kabul, an attack Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged Thursday was aided by Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. According to two American officials, cellphones used by the attackers made calls to suspected ISI operatives before the attack, although top Pakistani officials deny their government played any role.

    But even as the Americans pledge revenge against the Haqqanis, and even amid a new debate in the Obama administration about how to blunt the group’s power, there is a growing belief that it could be too late. To many frustrated officials, they represent a missed opportunity with haunting consequences. Responsible for hundreds of American deaths, the Haqqanis probably will outlast the United States troops in Afghanistan and command large swaths of territory there once the shooting stops.

    American military officers, who have spent years urging Washington to take action against the Haqqanis, express anger that the Obama administration has still not put the group on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations out of concern that such a move would scuttle any chances that the group might make peace with Afghanistan’s government.

    “Whoever is in power in Kabul will have to make a deal with the Haqqanis,” said Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer who served in Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. “It won’t be us. We’re going to leave, and those guys know it.”

    When their threat was less urgent, the Haqqanis — estimated at 5,000 to 15,000 fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan — were not a top priority for the Americans. But even then the United States also had little leverage against them. The Haqqanis have expanded their reach and numbers as top American officials have tried repeatedly over the last decade to berate and cajole officials in Pakistan to cut ties to a group it considers essential for its own security, all with little effect.

    “Some have become convinced that after 10 years, it’s a bridge too far to try to change Pakistan’s strategic calculus,” said Col. Bob Cassidy, who recently returned from Kabul after serving as a top aide to Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, a senior American commander in Afghanistan.

    Now largely run by two of Mr. Haqqani’s sons, who experts say are even more committed Islamists than their father, the network is in a position of strength as the United States tries to broker a peace deal in Afghanistan before pulling its troops from the country.

    In recent days, top Haqqani network leaders have indicated that they are willing to negotiate, but on their own terms. The group maintains close ties to the Taliban, but often works independently, and some intelligence officials see Haqqani operations like the American Embassy attack this month as a very public message from the group that it will not be cut out of any grand bargain.

    One former American intelligence official, who worked with the Haqqani family in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, said he would not be surprised if the United States again found itself relying on the clan.

    “You always said about them, ‘best friend, worst enemy.’ ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/wo...ef=todayspaper
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  2. #2

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    What gets me is that this is a problem that has been festering for years but people expect President Obama to do what none of his predecessors did. This, like many other problems, was dumped in his lap and there is no "quick fix".
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  3. #3

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    (CNN) -- The senior Haqqani network leader in Afghanistan, Haji Mali Khan, was captured during a joint NATO-Afghan forces operation, the International Security Assistance Force said Saturday.

    Khan was captured Tuesday in Jani Khel district, in Paktiya province, ISAF said.

    "This is the arrest of a leading figure of the Haqqani clan," ISAF spokesman Gen. Carsten Jacobson said. "It is a considerable blow against the Haqqani network."
    The Haqqani insurgent network is widely regarded as one of the most effective militant groups in Afghanistan. Western intelligence officials believe the Haqqanis were involved in the assassination this month of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, and a June attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.
    The group has not yet been labeled a terrorist group, but the United States is close to adding it to its terror list. U.S. officials say they are in the final formal review of that process.

    The White House praised the capture in a statement Saturday.
    "We congratulate the Afghan and ISAF forces for capturing the Haqqani network's senior commander in Afghanistan, Haji Mali Khan, a key Haqqani leader who facilitated cross-border attacks against our troops," White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
    Khan is the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani -- the brothers who lead the network -- and worked directly under Siraj, managing bases and overseeing operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ISAF said.

    Although he was arrested Tuesday, his capture was not announced until Saturday because it took a few days to confirm his identity, NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.

    Khan moved forces from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity, ISAF said.

    According to ISAF, Khan in the past year established a militant camp in Paktiya province, transferred money to insurgents and help them acquire supplies.

    He was heavily armed, but surrendered without incident, ISAF said.

    "Haji Mali Khan is a very important member of the Haqqani network. He was an active fighter for the group but also he was helping (Siraj) Haqqani in his administrate work," said Muhammad Amin, a former member of Afghanistan's security council and an influential leader in the region. "Whenever Siraj would be busy or away, Mali Khan would attend the meetings for (him). I think it is quite significant that he has been arrested and for sure Mali Khan has lots of information."

    The Haqqani network was founded by Siraj Haqqani's father with Pakistani backing to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Still today, the group is believed to maintain ties with Pakistan's military intelligence, the ISI.

    Many of the Haqqani targets have an Indian connection, signs of that association with the ISI.

    The links between the ISI and Haqqanis is "very well known," former joint chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who retired Friday, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

    "I have argued for the need to sever this link," he said, adding that the discussion was not a new one for U.S. officials.

    The United States has offered a $5 million reward for
    information leading to the arrest of Siraj Haqqani.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/01/world/...qqani-capture/
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  4. #4
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    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Call me naive, but when I saw this thread title, I was expecting news about some opera singers. You know, like the Irish Tenors?

  5. #5
    Slam Watcher rabbit's Avatar
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    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    Call me naive, but when I saw this thread title, I was expecting news about some opera singers. You know, like the Irish Tenors?
    Haha, same here.

  6. #6

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    7 min for our new friend from Yemen. How much longer I wonder

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    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by suliso View Post
    7 min for our new friend from Yemen. How much longer I wonder
    That was actually really good spam. Had the same IP as someone who registered under the same IP address earlier today. Now Jennia is gone, too. I love dumb spammers.

  8. #8

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by dryrunguy View Post
    That was actually really good spam. Had the same IP as someone who registered under the same IP address earlier today. Now Jennia is gone, too. I love dumb spammers.
    How do the smart ones operate?

    I guess the "perfect" solution would be to hijack kirkus IP address and spam away from there. I have no idea how that could be done, but I bet there is someone out there who knows...

  9. #9
    Slam Watcher rabbit's Avatar
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    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by suliso View Post
    I guess the "perfect" solution would be to hijack kirkus IP address and spam away from there. I have no idea how that could be done, but I bet there is someone out there who knows...
    This is actually easily doable, if someone gets to know Kirkus' IP address...

  10. #10
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    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
    This is actually easily doable, if someone gets to know Kirkus' IP address...
    Watch it! I still have my finger on the big yellow ban button!

  11. #11

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by dryrunguy View Post
    Watch it! I still have my finger on the big yellow ban button!
    Well, if you ban Kirkus, at least we won't have to worry about those pesky forum downtimes.

  12. #12

    Re: The Sopranos of Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles View Post
    Well, if you ban Kirkus, at least we won't have to worry about those pesky forum downtimes.

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