President Barack Obama's pick to lead the US military command overseeing operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere said he wanted top leaders of two major insurgent groups designated as terrorists.
The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network oppose US forces in Afghanistan and officially blacklisting their leaders could trigger punitive measures, like freezing assets. Advocates say it would also send a strong message to Pakistan, under pressure to go after insurgents inside its borders.
"Both those 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 the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mattis is nominated to take over the helm of the US military's Central Command, which oversees operations in a volatile swath of the world that covers 20 countries and stretches from Egypt across the Middle East and into South and Central Asia.
The Quetta Shura, headed by Mullah Omar, is the remains of the Afghan Taliban government which was overthrown and driven into Pakistan by the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network, headed by a hero of the 1980s guerrilla war against the Soviet Union, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and his son, is based mainly in Pakistan's North Waziristan and adjoining provinces in Afghanistan.