|US name Haqqani network terrorist outfit|
08 September 2012
WASHINGTON: After two years of “spirited debate” and notwithstanding deep concern within the Obama White House about the fragility of ties between Washington and Islamabad, the U.S. State Department has finally designated the fearsome Haqqani Network terror outfit in Afghanistan a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.
In a rare instance of overwhelming and unanimous support in the U.S. Congress leading to mounting pressure on the Obama White House to pin the FTO blacklist-label on the Haqqani group, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was given 30 days in early August to finalise her decision on the designation question.
The Haqqani Network is said to have been behind a string of deadly attacks in Kabul and elsewhere, most prominently including a bombing of the Indian embassy and an assault on the U.S. embassy using rockets. Additionally the group has been linked to an attack on Kabul's elite Serena and Intercontinental hotels and several kidnappings.
On Friday she reported back to Congress that the Haqqani Network “meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for designation as an FTO. This action meets the requirements of the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012.” She added that she also intended to designate the organisation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under an Executive Order.
An increasingly fraught U.S.-Pakistan relationship, most recently manifested in Pakistan closing down NATO supply routes after its soldiers were killed by Western allies in an incident last November, was said to have put the brakes on the designation of the Haqqani Network thus far.
The Obama administration, however, appeared keen to emphasise its sustained efforts at outlawing the terror group. In a statement Ms. Clinton noted, “These actions follow a series of other steps that the U.S. government already has taken against the Haqqanis. The Department of State previously designated key Haqqani Network leaders... and the Department of the Treasury has designated other militants with ties to the Haqqanis.”
Pointing out that the U.S. continued its “robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating... resolve to degrade the organisation’s ability to execute violent attacks,” she suggested that this process was consistent with the long-term plan to support Afghan security forces and Afghan-led reconciliation.
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