Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani Network leader who is on the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda and who holds a captured a US soldier in Afghanistan, appeared in a video recently released by a Turkish jihadist media outlet. In the video, Sangeen repeated an earlier call for Turks and Kurds to fight in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Sangeen, who serves as the shadow governor for Paktika province and is a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, addressed Muslims in Turkey in a videotape with Turkish subtitles, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The videotape was produced by the Fursan Muhammad Information Group and released on jihadist forums on Oct. 8. Sangeen has also appeared in two other videos produced by the Fursan Muhammad Information Group, SITE reported [see LWJ report, Senior Haqqani Network leader urges Turks to wage jihad in Afghanistan, for more information on one of the tapes].
The videotape consists largely of criticism of the Turkish government and its secularism, and calls for Muslims join the jihad against local governments in the Islamist world as well as against the West.
The video is interspersed with a number of clips showing “attacks by the [jihadist] fighters and their marches in Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq and Somalia,” according to SITE. These are followed by clips that “promote the spreading jihad to East Turkistan [western China], Philippines, Nigeria, Yemen and Pakistan.”
In the video, Sangeen argues that the Afghan Taliban are part of the wider jihad against the West as well as against local Muslim nations.
“We, the Afghan Taliban, are continuing our jihad while aware of the games and the aims of the United States, NATO and the collaborating apostates,” Sangeen says. “Without our jihad they would certainly be able to subvert the Afghan people, too.
He then notes that Turks, ethnic Kurds, and “other brothers” are coming to Afghanistan to fight NATO forces and the Afghan government.
“However … thanks to our ongoing jihad, we are able to protect our religion, our morals and our sanctities. Despite the thousands of kilometers between us, and despite the troubles and difficulties, our Turkish and Kurdish brothers supporting us have come to our lands to make the flag of Islam and the sanctities most high, and for this purpose, they left behind their families and comfortable life for this cause,” Sangeen says. “We are calling upon you to do jihad with your life and your possessions for the Cause of Allah. We ask from Allah that He accepts the martyrdom of the Turkish, Kurdish and other brothers who die for this cause.”
Recent statements by Sangeen resemble those made in July 2012
Sangeen’s call to Turks and Kurds to fight in Afghanistan is similar to a call he made in another videotape, also produced by the Fursan Muhammad Information Group, that was released in July. In the earlier video, Sangeen said that the fight would continue after the Afghan war was over. Sangeen told the Turks that “jihad is not only in Afghanistan,” and said that “America will leave here in disgrace.” [See LWJ report, Senior Haqqani Network leader urges Turks to wage jihad in Afghanistan].
Afterward, the Taliban and its allies will fight to establish a global caliphate, he stated.
“A State of Islam will be established in Afghanistan, and after our conquest, we will continue in our jihad and we will save the nations under oppression. We will make Islam prevail in the world!,” Sangeen said.
Sangeen admitted that al Qaeda is fighting alongside the Taliban, and that the jihad will continue.
“The entire world has gathered here to kill or imprison the Taliban, al Qaeda, and everyone who follows them,” including “the Muslim countries,” but “the Afghan Taliban never quit the fight,” he claimed.
Sangeen supports al Qaeda
Sangeen, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Paktika province, is a longtime ally of al Qaeda. He was added to the list of designated terrorists on Aug. 16, 2011.
In the past, Sangeen has openly admitted the strong links between the Haqqani Network and al Qaeda. In an interview released in September 2009 by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s top media outlet, Sangeen said al Qaeda and the Taliban “are all one and are united by Islam.”
“We do not see any difference between Taliban and Al Qaeda, for we all belong to the religion of Islam. Sheikh Osama [bin Laden] has pledged allegiance to Amir Al-Mumineen [the Leader of the Faithful, Mullah Muhammad Omar] and has reassured his leadership again and again. There is no difference between us, for we are united by Islam and the Sharia governs us,” Sangeen told As Sahab.
US military officials have told The Long War Journal that Sangeen is considered to be one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan. Sangeen has organized numerous assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region, and is currently holding Bowe Bergdahl, the only US soldier who has been captured alive in the Afghan theater.
Background on the Haqqani Network
In September 2012, the US finally added the Haqqani Network to the list of global terrorist entities. The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban subgroup that operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, but also has an extensive presence in Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, and Kunduz. In addition, the network has expanded its operations into the distant Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Faryab.
The terror group has close links with al Qaeda, and its relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has allowed the network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan, a tribal agency in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network has also extended its presence into the Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram.
In North Waziristan, the Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. In addition, the Haqqanis have established multiple training camps and safe houses that are used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives and by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy.
The terror group collaborated with elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service in at least one of these attacks. American intelligence agencies have confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISI’s direct involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing. [See LWJ report Pakistan’s Jihad and Threat Matrix report Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban for additional information on the ISI’s complicity in attacks in Afghanistan and the region.]
Last summer and fall, the US and the Afghan government linked the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s intelligence service to the June 28, 2011 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and the Sept. 13, 2011 attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters. Shortly after the September attack, Admiral Michael Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Haqqani Network of being one of several “[e]xtremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan.”
The US military has been hunting top Haqqani Network commanders in special operations raids in the Afghan east, while the CIA has targeted the network with a series of unmanned Predator airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. Both Siraj and Sangeen have been the targets of past strikes. Mohammed Haqqani, a mid-level Haqqani Network military commander and a brother of Siraj, was killed in a Predator airstrike in February 2010.
On Oct. 13, 2011, the Predators killed Jan Baz Zadran, who was considered to be the Haqqani Network’s third in command, in an airstrike in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan. As the top aide to operational commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jan Baz served as the Haqqani Network’s logistical and financial coordinator and also acquired weapons and ammunition for the network. He is thought to be the most senior Haqqani Network leader killed or captured since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
Top Haqqani Network leaders designated as global terrorists:
Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders have been placed on the list; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda. They are listed below in the order in which they were designated.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the overall leader of the Haqqani Network as well as the leader of the Taliban’s Miramshah Regional Military Shura, was designated by the State Department as a terrorist in March 2008; and in March 2009, the State Department put out a bounty of $5 million for information leading to his capture. US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal that Siraj is a member of al Qaeda’s top council. In April 2010, Siraj said that cooperation between al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban “is at the highest limits.”
Nasiruddin Haqqani, one of Siraj’s brothers, was placed on the US’s terrorist list in July 2010. Nasiruddin is a key financier and “emissary” for the Haqqani Network, and is known to have traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.
Khalil al Rahman Haqqani, Siraj’s uncle, was added to the US’s list of terrorists in February 2011. Khalil is a key fundraiser, financier, and operational commander for the Haqqani Network, and has been crucial in aiding and supporting al Qaeda’s military, the Lashkar al Zil or Shadow Army.
Badruddin Haqqani, another one of Siraj’s brothers, was designated by the State Department on May 11, 2011. Badruddin sits on the Miramshah Shura, is an operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and provides support to al Qaeda and allied terror groups. Badruddin is thought to have been killed in a drone strike in August 2012 but the report has not been confirmed.
Fazl Rabi was added to the list of designated terrorists in June 2011. Rabi is a key financial official for both the Taliban and the Haqqani Network who has also aided the terror group in executing suicide attacks in Afghanistan and has traveled to the Gulf countries to raise money for Jalaluddin and Siraj.
Ahmed Jan Wazir was added to the list of designated terrorists in June 2011 along with Fazl Rabi. Wazir serves as a deputy, advisor, and spokesman for Siraj, has represented the Haqqani Network at the Quetta Shura, and has close ties to al Qaeda’s network in Ghazni.
Mullah Sangeen Zadran, who serves as a senior lieutenant to Siraj and as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Paktika province in Afghanistan, was added to the list of designated terrorists on Aug. 16, 2011. US military officials have told The Long War Journal that Sangeen is considered to be one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan. Sangeen has organized numerous assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region, and is currently holding Bowe Bergdahl, the only US soldier who has been captured alive in the Afghan theater. Sangeen has professed his support for al Qaeda and recently called on Turkish and Kurdish jihadists to join the fight in Afghanistan.
Haji Mali Khan, who has been described by the US military as “one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani Network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” was added on Nov. 1, 2011. Khan was captured by US special operations forces during a raid on Sept. 27, 2011 in the Musa Khel district in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost.
And Bakht Gul, an important Haqqani Network communications official who works directly for Badruddin as his chief of staff, was designated on May 17, 2012. Gul relayed operational orders from Badruddin Haqqani to fighters in Afghanistan, and “aids in “the movement of Haqqani insurgents, foreign fighters, and weapons,” and has handed out funds to commanders traveling to Afghanistan, State said.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is the father of Siraj, Nasiruddin, and Badruddin and also the brother of Khalil, has not been added to the US’s list of terrorists, despite his close links to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. In an interview with Al Somood, the Taliban’s official magazine, Jalaluddin admitted he served on the Taliban’s executive council, which is known as the Quetta Shura.