From Jalaluddin to Sirajuddin; the Story of the Haqqanis
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had placed a bounty of ten million U.S. dollars on Sirajuddin Haqqani’s head for his involvement in terrorist activities, and he was considered one of the Taliban’s most dangerous members until two years ago. However, attempts are now being made to portray him as a hero. Haqqani has taken on the paradoxical role that the intelligence agencies had assigned to him by succeeding his father, Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani, as the leader of the Haqqani network. In addition to being the head of a violent group that has caused the deaths of thousands of Afghans, Sirajuddin also maintains strong and unbreakable ties with Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies. Without the support of the intelligence services, his new position would not be possible. Haqqani has established himself as a valuable source of information, much like his father.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, the father of Sirajuddin, passed away at the age of 79 five years ago. Jalaluddin had attended the esteemed Haqqani Religious School, one of the thousands of religious schools supported by Pakistan’s intelligence in the province of Pakhtunkhwa. Jalaluddin Haqqani is thought to have been the leader of Mawlawi Khalis’ “Islamic Party” in the southeast during the fight against the Soviet forces, but he rose to a higher level of power than the leader of his party and left his sons with a legacy of organization, power, and wealth.
Jalaluddin Haqqani’s followers view his liberation of Khost province from Najibullah’s government as his greatest accomplishment, making him the most powerful battle commander against Soviet forces. However, opponents argue that his success was largely due to his close ties with Pakistan’s army and intelligence, which provided Gulbuddin Hekmatyar with the most support at the time. Jalaluddin’s adversaries claim that Pakistan’s ongoing support was the cause of his victory in Khost province. According to legend, Jalaluddin was able to overthrow the regime in Khost by relying on his ethnicity and negotiating with some of the province’s elderly leaders. He then allegedly sold military surplus weapons and government goods to the market.
Supporters of Haqqani assert that, instead of engaging in the civil war, he attempted to mediate and reconcile after Najib’s government was overthrown. However, his critics contend that Jalaluddin Haqqani was unable to have a significant impact on the violent conflict and that some of his fighters were recruited by the opposing sides and participated in it. From the perspective of his critics, Jalaluddin Haqqani seemed to be acting as a mediator on the surface, while in actuality, he was collaborating with Pakistanis to establish the groundwork for the Taliban to become a new entity.
Mullah Haqqani, lacking the military power to act independently, supported the formation of the Taliban organization in 1996 under the pretext of restoring order to the chaotic regulatory system. Rumors suggest that Pakistan did not need the help of former jihadi commanders during the initial phase of Taliban authority, so Jalaluddin largely stayed out of the picture.
In 2001, Jalaluddin Haqqani returned to Waziristan following the overthrow of the Taliban’s leadership, and with the help of Pakistan, he established training camps for his militants. His ties to the Waziristan border regions, his influence there, and his experience and contacts from the war against the Soviet forces enabled him to create a powerful war machine in conjunction with the Taliban to fight against the Islamic Republic and its international allies. The Haqqani network, the organization led by the Haqqani family, has had a long and intricate relationship with Pakistan’s intelligence. Tactically, the Haqqani network is much more ruthless and dangerous than the Taliban.
The Haqqani network, with the assistance of Pakistani intelligence and affiliates in various parts of the country, including Kabul, has taken responsibility for numerous attacks in which, in addition to targeting leaders, numerous compatriots were killed indiscriminately, both civilians and military. Sirajuddin Haqqani stated in one of his speeches that his network alone was responsible for 1,500 suicides during that period. This staggering number of suicide bombers can be estimated by counting the number of Afghan security forces and civilians who have been killed or injured by this group.
Sirajuddin revealed that he was the son of a notorious murderer during prior conversations. He now wishes to take on a new role for political gain, under the guidance of his foreign intelligence advisors, emulating his father Jalaludin Haqani’s cruel actions.
Following the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in 2016, Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose network had previously operated separately from the Taliban, is thought to have fully incorporated his network into the Taliban organization. Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada was then appointed as one of the two new Taliban deputy leaders, with Mullah Yaqoub acting as the other. It is believed that Sirajuddin Haqqani is displeased with his network being isolated, likely due to ethnic reasons, as he was given leadership over the Kandahari Taliban. In a recent speech in the Afghan province of Khost, he accused his emir, Mullah Hibatullah, of having a tight grip on power. He perceives himself as the “conqueror” of Kabul and the true Amir of the Taliban.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose emir had reportedly recently denied his multiple requests for a meeting, gave a speech in Khost City in which he declared: “We have become so convinced of our own righteousness and our own opinions and thoughts have become so pervasive that threats, targeting, and other forms of revenge have become commonplace among us. Our motivation and attitude are now based on the system’s dominance and reputation, and this cannot be accepted any longer.” After Sirajuddin Haqqani made these remarks, the hidden actors and the deceived audience began to view him as a hero, similar to his father, after years of bloodshed and assassination, giving the impression that Sirajuddin is the voice of the powerless and voiceless people and is speaking on behalf of the people against his oppressive ruler.
It is not uncommon in Afghanistan for intelligence games of this contradictory nature to take place. In recent decades, many leaders have been able to gain power and be celebrated as heroes, despite being supported by intelligence networks, committing murder, and being despised by the public. Ultimately, however, they were overthrown and the intelligence deception was revealed, exposing their detested faces.
Sirajuddin plays a political role in a show that will end in a disastrous manner, alongside other characters such as his father. People become mere spectators and pawns in societies where they lack the power to control the play and select their political leaders. The younger generation of Afghans should come together and take part in national politics instead of merely watching repugnant political games. If not, the Jalaluddins and Sirajuddins will take the stage and form political and military factions that will ruin the country in order to further their own interests, impede progressive change, and lead it down a path of regression.
The situation in Afghanistan must be addressed immediately. To learn from the past and prevent those who caused destruction from being glorified, we must revive the historical memory of our nation. Examining historical documents and recollections will help people identify those responsible for the nation’s downfall and the deaths of our citizens. We should contemplate whether we can gain respect and solace by relying on untrustworthy individuals and groups that have gained power by creating disorder and murdering.