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Haqqanis, most resilient Taliban group

The United States knows where to find the most feared insurgent family in the Afghanistan war.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2011 02:21 IST

The United States knows where to find the most feared insurgent family in the Afghanistan war.

Troops can point to the downtown Khost mansion owned by its patriarch, Jalaluddin Haqqani; the million-dollar blue-tile mosque he built for the city's residents; and his base of operations 20 kilometre away in Pakistan. They are aware of his trucking and warehouse businesses, his sons who command about 3,000 fighters, and their sophisticated training camps that conduct courses in withstanding interrogation and firing rockets across borders.

Defeating the Haqqanis is another matter. "Haqqani is the most resilient enemy network out there," said Col. Christopher Toner, commander of the US military brigade in Afghan province.

Outnumbered by the Taliban and less famous than al Qaeda, the Haqqani network nevertheless poses an intractable problem for US troops, particularly as the focus of the war shifts toward the Pakistani border.

The network has been linked to the terror attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul.

After an intensive focus on fighting Mohammad Omar's Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010, the Obama administration is in talks, mediated by Germany and Qatar, with an Omar deputy. But a political deal with the Taliban - still a distant prospect - would not necessarily end the war in the east: the Haqqani network is seen as the least reconcilable of the Afghanistan war's motley crew of insurgent factions.

They rely on their Pashtun tribal connections and their patrons in Pakistan's intelligence service, according to US. The Haqqanis hew to the relatively narrow goal of ruling a three-province swath of eastern Afghanistan that was once their exclusive domain but is now shared with thousands of American troops.

(In exclusive partnership with The Washington post)