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Who is Jalaluddin Haqqani?

Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of the most important Taliban military commanders fighting against the Afghan government, and US forces in Afghanistan.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2012 19:22 IST

Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of the most important Taliban military commanders fighting against the Afghan government, and US forces in Afghanistan. He is seen by some analysts as the main engine in the Taliban movement. He is aligned with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as well as secretly with Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Early years
Haqqani first started out as a member and commander under Yunis Khalis' Hezb-e-Islami. He gained a reputation for being a diehard fighter, and impressed ISI officials who were very active amongst the various Mujahidden groups during the Soviet war.

Soon, Haqqani became the ISI's man, and they provided a safe haven for him in Pakistan. ISI officials would devise strategies or battle plans and Haqqani would simply execute them. In 1991, with extensive help from the ISI, he became the first Mujahideen commander to capture a city, Khost, from Dr. Najibullah's government. After Dr. Najibullah's government finally fell in 1992 to the forces of Ahmad Shah Masood, and a Mujahideen government was setup, Haqqani was appointed as the country's justice minister.

Haqqani joins the Taliban
The Pakistanis were not happy with the structure of the new Mujahideen government and wanted one of their own to lead and control Afghanistan's policy with Pakistan. They first tried with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and after that failed, they created the Taliban in 1994. In 1995, the Pakistanis persuaded Jalaluddin Haqqani to surrender to the Taliban and in 1996 after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Haqqani became their top military commander north of Kabul.

In this role, he led numerous brutal assaults not only against Ahmad Shah Masood's forces, but also against the civilian population. He destroyed much of the Shamali Plain north of Kabul, burning down houses and farmlands, and was even accused of systematically targeting and killing innocent Farsi speaking members of the population. He was rewarded by the Taliban for his successes by appointing him as minister of borders and tribal affairs. He held on to this position until the Taliban were removed from power in late 2001.

Haqqani and Osama bin Laden
Haqqani was close to Osama bin Laden and had a long relationship with him going back to the Afghan-Soviet war. Haqqani protected Osama bin Laden, and even helped him to establish a fighting force in Afghanistan.

He is believed to have also played a role in helping bin Laden escape from Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

Personal life
Haqqani was born in 1950, and has has two wives. His Arab wife is believed to be staying in the United Arab Emirates. Haqqani is fluent in Arabic. His son, Sirajuddin Haqqani is also active in the war against the US backed Afghan government.

Sirajuddin has also played a major role in coordinating and leading the Pakistani Taliban in their battles against the Pakistani troops in Waziristan.

Haqqani today
Haqqani has been credited with introducing suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani turned his ferocity and battle skills on Western forces. He earned a top spot on the CIA hit list, along with his old friend Osama bin Laden, whom he met during the anti-Soviet resistance.

Despite ill health, Jalaluddin, who is in his 70s, still inspires Haqqani foot soldiers believed to number up to 4,000, as well as other militant groups who revere him. His son, Siraj, seen as more ruthless, runs the daily affairs of the network.