Militant group cashes in on corruption and rich donors
Members of a combined Afghan and coalition security force cleared a known Haqqani network foreign fighter encampment site in Paktika province, Afghanistan last year.
August 3rd, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Militant group cashes in on corruption and rich donors

By Jamie Crawford

The Haqqani network, a notorious militant group responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan, has evolved from a politically inspired insurgent group into a "sophisticated and diversified mafia-type network" that finances itself through kidnapping, extortion, and the lucrative rare-earth metal trade, a new report says.

In a wide-ranging report about the Pakistan-based group, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, New York, likened the "hybrid organization that is at once political and criminal in nature" to a complex and sophisticated organized criminal enterprise seeking to increase its stature in the community while resorting to criminal means to remain solvent.

From its base in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, the Afghan-led group has formed alliances with al Qaeda, the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, and the Pakistani intelligence services to further its aims, the report says. Community members in Pakistan interviewed for the report described the group as "virtually untouchable."

Founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani in the wake of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the group initially worked with the United States and its allies to expel the Soviets. Since suffering a stroke in 2005, Jalaluddin has essentially retired and his son, Sirajuddin, has taken command.

The group has been blamed for multiple attacks on critical infrastructure in Kabul, including a 20-hour assault last September on the U.S. Embassy compound.

While leading members of the group have been designated as terrorists and subjected to sanctions by the U.S. government, the Obama administration has not added the group as a whole to the list of terrorist groups. Congress recently passed legislation calling on the administration to do so.

In addition to a monthly stipend for operational costs from the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network receives a significant portion of its funding from deep-pocketed donors from locations in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the report says. The group's members are "veterans in the fund-raising business," it says.

From its role in extortion, robbery, narcotics trafficking and kidnap for ransom, the group is "driven more by financial interests than by principles of jihad," the report says. The group's extortion rackets include taking fees for "security" from non-governmental organizations, construction firms and others working on development projects, some of which are funded by NATO-led coalition efforts.

The Haqqanis also collect taxes from other organizations and entities that smuggle narcotics through territory it controls.

But the Haqqanis' financial holdings are not gained through illicit means alone. The report highlights a portfolio of licit interests, including hospitals, religious schools and real estate, trucking and construction companies, along with import-export operations.

And the group's involvement in the trade of chromite is able to flourish, the report says, due to a lack of regulation and the pervasive corruption in the Afghan and Pakistani governments.

Chromite, a rare-earth oxide used in the production of stainless steel, has a large market in China, India and other developing economies with booming construction sectors. A recent joint U.S.-Afghan geological survey estimated Afghanistan to have nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped wealth in the mineral.

In addition to private donors, the network continues to receive financial and logistical support from the Pakistani military, and continues to harbor close operational ties with the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the report says. Cracks in that support are evident, however, by the routine arrest of Haqqani operatives and the limiting of the group's capacity to operate, it says.

The former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told a Senate committee last September that the Haqqani network had become a "veritable arm" of the ISI.

Many suspect Pakistani support for the group exists as a hedge against the uncertainty that could follow in Afghanistan once the U.S. and NATO military missions end in 2014.

Richard Olson, President Obama's nominee to be the next ambassador to Pakistan, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his confirmation hearing earlier this week that cracking down on the group would be his "most urgent" priority.

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Filed under: Haqqani Network
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Zari

    Really lovely riveew - I wouldn't automatically go to this book but your description of the story, the characters, and the feel of the novel has me curious. I especially liked how you described it as "both unusual and commonplace" - I kind of know what you mean and I like it!

    October 13, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
  2. AA

    "A recent joint U.S.-Afghan geological survey estimated Afghanistan to have nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped wealth in the mineral". hmmm maybe this is the reason why we are in Afg. in the beginning.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Quite true, AA. Those untapped mineral resources are precisely why we're currently fighting in Afghanistan today. Don't let the right-wing fanatics in Washington tell you otherwise!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  3. obama is weak

    obama gives billions of USA tax payers coin to this corrupt nation .

    August 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  4. sam

    Hi. My name is sam. I'm looking for a good time. Must love war and have a small tool.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Reply
    • TJBPHOENIX

      Here goes sam the mindless Tea Partier again, posting here without saying anything! These Tea Partiers evidently don't mind displaying their stupidity at all. I wonder where thier pride is, but them again, they evidently they have none!!!

      August 5, 2012 at 1:20 am | Reply
  5. Hide Behind

    Come now CNN, stealing rare earth minerals the eorlds largest thieves of rare earth minerals is the Euro /centrics. and a vast majority of those thefts involve very powrrfull Canadian and Israelis
    who have been foing it gor years.
    France would not have a vadt nuke program but gor years of thefts along with The nethetlands ejo stole and still steal. from central africa..
    The us military canmot ecist without controlling those minerals and our wjole telecommunications network was built primarily by stealing rare earths

    Difference between pirates and Kings. kings got better PR Agemcy

    August 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Reply
    • Greg

      Learn to spell – atleast then your drivel will be readable.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:28 am | Reply
  6. Karl from Wash DC

    I have reached the conclusion that we must apply the “Minimalist Approach” to solve India’s malaise and problems. Essentially that entails imploding India into more economically, politically and socially viable states that are independent. From the ashes shall rise the salvation.

    August 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • William F. Phuckley

      Oh, that's just brilliant. We can't even solve our own problems, yet we're to feel as if we can solve everyone else's?

      August 5, 2012 at 9:23 am | Reply
  7. OurDogPakistan

    Is anyone here really surprised that Our Dog Pakistan was/is a "sophisticated and diversified mafia-type network"?

    August 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Graham

      Does it surprise you to know that the sun rises in the east? It shouldn't surprise anyone because these are well known facts.

      August 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • Quigley

      Is this post really true OurDogPakistan, or is this just more propaganda from the right-wing news media trying to scare the public again? The only thing that scares me is the prospect of another U.S. made pseudo-democratic state in Central Asia!

      August 4, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
    • Bangash

      You Mr Dog remember that Pakistan and its citizens are peaceful however in friendship of USA we have fought like Americans dogs and today we are paying for this friendship with USA. Whole world see us where we stand today in US friendship which is a lesson for all. We will stay as a state and a nation but America will loose when all will see her real face and way of friendship.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  8. highspeed

    So what, Israel sponsors SEVERAL terrorist groups.

    And you don't see the US condemning them..

    O yea I forgot..they OWN the US.....

    August 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Reply
    • TJBPHOENIX

      I wish to add highspeed, that back in the 1980's the U.S. trained and funded the the "Contras" in Nicaragua, one of the biggest terrorist groups that ever existed in the annals of mankind but yet it has the very gall to criticize other countries for doing the same! This double standard sucks bigtime!!!!!!

      August 5, 2012 at 1:26 am | Reply
      • William F. Phuckley

        We've muscled our puppets, dictators and despots into sovereign states for decades. Our collective hypocrisy is breath taking.

        August 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
      • Greg

        Just because the US did something doesn't make it right. It is wrong to assist organizations that kill innocent people for political gain. If the US did this, then it shows the US has made mistakes. However, it does not mean the US can not criticise other nations for such wrongs and attempt to get them to stop committing those wrongs.

        August 6, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  9. 2012marandalaw

    Things like this happen..
    2012marandalaw

    Here in Downtown Cleveland Ohio..They had A Pole Dancer Display..And Now,”Bomb Treats”..Everywhere.I am not a Stupid Human Being.Someone better..start Paying Attention.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    2012marandalaw

    Now they have Thrown 4 “Bad Mitin”..Teams,Out of the Olympics..For Manipulating their way to the Olympics..So Again..I say this Serial Killer..Had Help,At Some Point.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    2012marandalaw

    What makes me really,really angry..Is,Everyone was more Concerned about..’Princess Diana”,and Royalty..Instead of our Troops.Sorry..But,Thats exactly..What happened.Lots Of Innocent Women..Were Brutally Murdered,at the Hands Of aRoyal Canadian Air Force..Officer.Did they find the Person that left a “Young Woman”..On The Queens Property?Is she Important?

    August 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
    2012marandalaw

    Reblogged this on Marinchek-Marn and commented:
    Will This Involve Co-Operation across the Board?I really hope so.When you have a High Ranking “Serial Killer” Officer,That Was Making Dangerous Female Insurgents,Killing Females,Sending Pole Dancers Overseas,to our Troops..And Exploding Anything and Everything,He wanted.(I Believe that is exactly was he did..Right Under everyones Nose)Did he have help?I believe,at some point ..Yes he did.So,Co-Operation..Is very,very important.

    2012marandalaw

    Olympic badminton players disqualified for trying to lose

    August 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply

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