Leaders of Pakistan-based Haqqani Network as well as those of the Afghan Taliban should be declared as "terrorist-affiliated individuals" for their support to insurgency in Afghanistan, a top American General has said.
"Both these groups have engaged in terrorism, and I believe the leaders of both groups should be placed on the State Department list," General James Mattis told lawmakers during his Senate confirmation hearing for Commander of the US Central Command.
Mattis was responding to a question from Senator Carl Levin if the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban through its Quetta Shura or council have been engaged in terrorist activities that threaten US security interests and if he believes that these groups should be designated as foreign terror organisations.
"Relative to the Haqqani Network, which is based in North Waziristan, neither they nor the Afghan Taliban's Quetta Shura, which is based in Quetta in Pakistan, are on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations," Levin said.
"These groups and their senior leaders are involved deeply in supporting the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan. There's little question that they engage in terrorist activities to the detriment of the United States national security interests and to the coalition (forces)," the Senator said.
"Designating those groups as foreign terrorist organisations or, at a minimum, designating their senior leaders as terrorist-affiliated individuals would make certain tools available for limiting the financial and logistical support that they receive and, also, perhaps even more importantly, would send a very important signal regarding the United States' serious concern with their ongoing activities, including a signal to Pakistan," Levin said.
The State Department has said that it has begun the process of designating the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani Taliban as foreign terrorist organisations.
At another Congressional hearing convened by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, David Kilcullen, a non-resident fellow at the prestigious Centre for New American Security, said the Haqqani Network is acting on behalf of some elements in the Pakistani national security establishment.