WASHINGTON -- When the U.S. State Department announced this week that it finally is going to designate the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization, it was a nonevent for most of our countrymen. That's because few Americans know how deadly the organization is. For that we can thank those at Foggy Bottom who are wedded to the naive hope of a near-term "diplomatic breakthrough" in Afghanistan. Couple that misguided belief with the Obama administration's self-deception that the radical Islamic jihad against the West ended with the demise of Osama bin Laden and it's understandable why the Haqqani network is virtually unknown. Here's the short form of why it's important.
When Jalaluddin Haqqani founded the criminal enterprise now known as the Haqqani network, Soviet troops were running amok in Afghanistan. Adopted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency as a reliable ally, Haqqani's fame as a Pashtun mujahed soon rivaled that of Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Both the ISI and the CIA believed that Haqqani was "controllable." But he wasn't.
After the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and Afghanistan descended into civil war, Massoud opposed the Taliban takeover. Haqqani, encouraged by the ISI, sided with Mullah Mohammad Omar's Taliban and became a key player in Islamabad's window on what was happening in Kabul.
Though Massoud was murdered on the eve of the al-Qaida attack on 9/11, his Northern Alliance fighters were the backbone of the U.S.-led effort to unseat the Taliban. Haqqani, ever loyal to his handlers in the ISI's Department "S," soon became the most dangerous name in the Afghan insurgency and a "trusted brand" for Islamic mujahedeen from around the world, who want to kill Westerners. It's been that way for a decade. Apparently, our State Department just figured this out.
On Sept. 22, Adm. Mike Mullen, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He described the Haqqani network -- now run by Jalaluddin Haqqani's son Siraj -- as "a veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence service. He also accused Haqqani "insurgents" of collaborating with the ISI in scores of high-profile attacks against U.S. and NATO personnel -- including the bloody June 28 attack on the InterContinental hotel in Kabul and the Sept. 13 assault on the U.S. Embassy there. Every official who could get to a microphone in Islamabad immediately denied the charge -- as did Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, at the United Nations. None of this could have been a surprise to our State Department.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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