Largely unnoticed in the spate of news from Washington was a report on legislation introduced by both Democrats and Republicans to force “the State Department to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization”:
“You cannot negotiate with terrorists, and in my view that’s exactly what the Haqqani Network is,” bill sponsor Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “I have urged the State Department to designate Haqqani as an FTO for more than two years. Meanwhile, the organization continues to kill Americans in Afghanistan and launch brazen and indiscriminate attacks against innocent men, women and children in the region.”
The Haqqani network, some readers may be surprised to learn, is actually a family business. It is an Afghan/Pakistani family that has car dealerships, money exchanges, and construction companies as well as an international subsidiary engaging in terror. The famous Mullah Omar is the corporate face of Haqqani Inc., and an essential part of their regionally famous brand:
The Haqqani network’s financial interests are extensive, spreading out from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Persian Gulf, south and east Asia, and perhaps reaching as far as Latin America. As early as the 1970s, Jalaluddin Haqqani began to cultivate a financial support system in the Persian Gulf, where he made connections with wealthy Gulf Arabs (as well as the Saudi intelligence service), thereby laying the groundwork for his close relationship with Arab sponsors, including Osama bin Laden. Those relationships are today maintained by other family members, like Nasiruddin, who has made multiple fundraising trips to the Persian Gulf.
The Haqqani network also runs legitimate businesses — many of them linked to the economic empire of the Pakistani military and security establishment — such as car dealerships within some of Pakistan’s largest cities, money exchanges, and construction companies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Haqqanis’ illegal operations include lucrative smuggling networks to strip timber, minerals, and other precious goods from Afghanistan and sell them in Pakistan and beyond. And the network profits from kidnapping, extortion, and protection rackets on both sides of the border.