By Jamie Crawford
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday calling on the Obama administration to add a Pakistan-based terror group to the list of organizations designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
"The Haqqani Network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and is the single largest threat for IED's our soldiers face in that country," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. "They actively plot and kill U.S. and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path. To better protect the lives of U.S. soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated."
As CNN's Security Clearance reported last week, the administration has already designated members of the Haqqani leadership as terrorists and subjected them to U.S. sanctions. There is some concern designating the entire group could mean labeling Pakistan a state-sponsor of terror at a time when Pakistan's cooperation is needed as combat operations in Afghanistan come to a close in 2014.
"We are bringing a great deal of pressure to bear on the Haqqanis," Pentagon spokesman George Little said last week. "And we believe that on the Pakistani side of the border, that additional action needs to be taken by the Pakistanis to root out this network of militants that is a menace to Afghanistan and to Pakistan."
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and was brought to the House floor after an amendment was made to Rogers's initial bill that unequivocally declared that Congress believes the network meets the definition of an FTO, and should be designated as one by the State Department.
An FTO designation allows the United States to freeze the group's assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and to prosecute individuals aiding or assisting the group with providing material support to terrorism.
The bill now heads back to the Senate for consideration.