Taliban ‘interior minister’ Sirajuddin Haqqani lauds suicide bombers, hands out aid to kin

The Haqqani Network was blamed by Indian and US officials for the July 2008 suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed 58 people and injured nearly 150. Among the dead were the Indian defence attaché, Brig Ravi Datt Mehta, diplomat V Venkateswara Rao and two Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.
Several photos showed Haqqani embracing relatives of the suicide bombers and praying at the meeting. (TWITTER/@Saeed Khosty.)
Several photos showed Haqqani embracing relatives of the suicide bombers and praying at the meeting. (TWITTER/@Saeed Khosty.)
Published on Oct 19, 2021 10:52 PM IST
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The Taliban’s “interior minister”, Sirajuddin Haqqani, a UN-designated terrorist for whom the US has offered a $10-million bounty, has praised suicide bombers and pledged support for the families of fighters killed in suicide attacks.

Haqqani, a top leader of the Haqqani Network that has strong links with the Pakistani military, distributed 10,000 Afghanis (about $110) and clothes to the families of suicide attackers and promised them a plot of land during a meeting held at Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on Monday.

Photos posted on Twitter by pro-Taliban accounts showed the event was attended by hundreds of men. Haqqani was featured in several of the photos, though his face was blurred or he was photographed from the rear.

The Haqqani Network was blamed by Indian and US officials for the July 2008 suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed 58 people and injured nearly 150. Among the dead were the Indian defence attaché, Brig Ravi Datt Mehta, diplomat V Venkateswara Rao and two Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.

Saeed Khosty, the interior ministry spokesman, said on Twitter that Haqqani had “met the family members of martyred Fidayeen” at the hotel.

“In his speech, the Interior Minister praised the jihad & sacrifices of Mujahideen & martyrs. He called them heroes of Islam & the country. [Haqqani] told everyone about the memories of the martyred (Fidayeen) their piety & deeds. He called them heroes of the believing nation,” Khosty tweeted.

“Now you & I must refrain from betraying the aspirations of our martyrs,” Haqqani was quoted as saying by Khosty.

Khosty also confirmed Haqqani had distributed 10,000 Afghanis and clothes to the families of the suicide bombers and “promised a plot for each (martyr’s) family”.

Several photos showed Haqqani embracing relatives of the suicide bombers and praying at the meeting. The interior ministry also said in a statement that Haqqani paid tribute to the suicide bombers by describing them as “martyrdom seekers” and “holy warriors”.

Ironically, the hotel in which the meeting was held had been targeted in January 2018 by Taliban fighters who killed 40 people, including 14 foreigners. The Taliban has carried out scores of suicide attacks across Afghanistan in recent years that killed thousands of Afghans and foreign troops.

In a separate development, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Pakistan’s Bol TV news channel that the group’s army has several units of suicide bombers.

“The time for carrying out more suicide attacks is over, but we still have groups of suicide bombers who will not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the defence of the country,” he said, speaking in Pashto.

“Some groups have special names while others are known as fidayeen units and these will all be part of our strong forces,” he added.

Mujahid said only males are allowed to carry out suicide attacks, though women had participated in the jihad in the past. “Even in those times, women were not allowed to carry out suicide attacks. Males in suicide attack groups are given training so that they can defend the country when the time comes,” he said.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is on the FBI’s most wanted list for terrorism and carries a bounty of $10 million on his head under the US Rewards For Justice programme.

A listing on the “most wanted” section of the FBI website states: “Sirajuddin Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen. He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

Haqqani was also allegedly involved in planning an assassination attempt on former Afghan president Hamid Karzai in 2008.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021