U.S. sanctions militant Haqqani network commander
WASHINGTON — The United States took action Tuesday aimed at ensuring that a jailed commander of the militant Haqqani network or his associates never benefit from funds under American jurisdiction.
The State Department blacklisted commander Mali Khan under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 in a bid to block funds to suspected terrorists, after a similar move in August against commander Sangeen Zadran.
“All property subject to US jurisdiction in which Mali Khan has any interest is blocked and US persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him,” the State Department said.
“This action will help stem the flow of financial and other assistance to the Haqqani network,” a Pakistan-based militant group blamed for high-profile attacks on US and Afghan targets, the State Department said.
It said Mali Khan was detained in Afghanistan in a late September raid by Afghan and coalition forces, but State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the sanctions seek to freeze transactions involving him or his associates.
“We want to make sure that… nobody can do business with anybody who has access to his stuff, and/or… if he ever came to a time when he was out of custody, that he shouldn’t have any illusions about being able to do business,” she told reporters.
Affiliated with the Taliban, the Haqqani network is considered the most dangerous enemy of US troops in eastern Afghanistan.
It was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani and is run by his son, Sirajuddin, both of them already designated “global terrorists” by Washington.
US officials have accused the Haqqani network of staging the attack on the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing on a NATO outpost, both in September, and a June attack on Kabul’s InterContinental hotel.
In September, the then top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accused Pakistan’s intelligence service of supporting those attacks.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the same month that Washington was undertaking the “final, formal review” on whether to list the entire Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization.
Such a designation could prove problematic in light of Mullen’s remarks, as it would raise questions about whether Pakistan, a frontline US ally in the fight against terrorism, could be blacklisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.