Jalaluddin Haqqani: Militant network founder and Osama bin Laden ally dies

Jalaluddin Haqqani: Militant network founder and Osama bin Laden ally dies

The founder of the militant Haqqani militant network Jalaluddin Haqqani died after several years of illness, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced on Monday.

It's not clear from the Taliban statement when Haqqani died, but his family said Tuesday he had, in fact, died.

The Taliban have announced that Jalauddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan, has died.

The group, designated a terrorist organisation by the United States in 2012, has been blamed for spectacular attacks across Afghanistan. The first al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan were built on territory controlled by Haqqani.

Haqqani was among the Afghan mujahideen which the USA supported with money and weapons in the 1980s to fight the Soviet army that was propping up the pro-Moscow government.

READ | Who was Jalaluddin Haqqani?

Though he started as an autonomous leader against the US, Nato and Western-backed Afghan troops but he forged an alliance with the Taliban, with his son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, becoming the insurgency's deputy leader. The Haqqani family hails from eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.

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A fluent Arabic speaker, Jalaluddin also fostered close ties with Arab extremists including Osama Bin Laden who flocked to the region during the war. Haqqani had not been heard from in several years and reports of his death were widespread in 2015.

But the terror network that he established later on is considered as one of the most unsafe factions fighting Afghan and US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Radmanish said the death was not expected to mean any major change for the Haqqani network, blamed by Afghan and USA security officials for some of the most devastating suicide attacks of the past decade. The group was most recently blamed for the May 2017 truck bomb attack in central Kabul, which killed 150 people, although its members deny any involvement.

One of the most resilient of Afghanistan's insurgents, Haqqani joined the Taliban when they overran Kabul in September 1996, expelling feuding fighters whose battles left the capital in ruins. Rumours about Haqqani's death had been circulating for years but Taliban always ruled out such claims.

He has, reportedly, been buried in Afghanistan at an unknown place.

With Sirajuddin firmly in charge, Jalaluddin's death may not have much strategic impact on the network's operations.

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