5:33 PM, May 23, 2011
• By DANIEL HALPER
AEI's Critical Threats program and the Institute for the Study of War have put together an important study on the expanding Haqqani Network, "Afghanistan's most dangerous insurgent organization."
The report finds:
The Haqqani Network is Afghanistan's most capable and sophisticated insurgent network and enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal areas The Haqqanis have used their sanctuary in Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency to operate across the border in southeastern Afghanistan.
In response to increased coalition activity against the Haqqani Network in both Pakistan (via drones) and Afghanistan (via Special Operations Forces), the Haqqanis have increasingly sought new Pakistani sanctuary and additional infiltration routes in order to continue to battle coalition forces for control of southeastern Afghanistan.
The Haqqani Network has increasingly turned its attention to Kurram Agency, a region of special strategic importance to Afghanistan-focused insurgents that served as a base to the Afghan Mujahideen during the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Kurram facilitates convenient access to several Afghan provinces and is also the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan.
In September 2010, reports surfaced that suggested the Haqqani Network was involved in peace negotiations between Kurram's Shia and Sunni tribes. In exchange for brokering the peace between Sunnis and Shias, the Haqqanis allegedly received the authority to operate through Shia-controlled terrain in central and upper Kurram. It is likely that other national and transnational terrorists who operate with the Haqqanis, such as al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e Taiba, will join them in Kurram.
The Haqqanis will likely relocate critical elements of the network to Kurram Agency. This will have the dual effect of relieving pressure on the Network from U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan and allow for greater freedom of movement for its fighters, facilitators, and leaders.
The expansion of the Haqqani Network and affiliated terrorist groups will have negative consequences for security and stability, not just in Kurram, but in eastern Afghanistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, as it will become more difficult to identify, track, and strike national and international terrorist groups.
Full report here.
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