UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. committee that oversees sanctions against the Taliban imposed global sanctions Monday on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, a fierce militant group considered a major threat to U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, and its "chief of suicide operations."
The Taliban sanctions committee ordered all 193 U.N. member states to freeze the assets and institute an arms embargo against the Haqqani network, saying the group is linked to al-Qaida and other militant organizations and is responsible for suicide attacks and targeted assassination as well as kidnappings in Kabul and Afghan provinces.
The committee also ordered an asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban against Afghan-born Abdul Rauf Zakir, also known as Qari Zakir, who it said oversees training of suicide attackers and provides instructions on how to construct improvised explosive devices.
The Security Council committee described him as "chief of suicide operations for the Haqqani Network" under its leader, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, "and in charge of all operations in Kabul, Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan provinces."
The United States earlier Monday also imposed financial sanctions against Zakir and labeled him a global terrorist.
The decision to impose sanctions required approval by all 15 Security Council members, including Pakistan, and diplomats said its agreement was considered very significant since the Haqqani Network is based in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.
North Waziristan is the last tribal region in which the Pakistan military has not launched an operation against militants, although the U.S. has been continually pushing for such a move. The Pakistanis contend that their military is already overstretched fighting operations in other areas but many in the U.S. believe they are reluctant to carry out an operation because of their longstanding ties to some of the militants operating there such as the Haqqani Network.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice welcomed the Taliban sanctions committee's announcement of sanctions against the network and Zakir.
She said the U.N. action expands sanctions by the United States, which in September named the Haqqanis a terrorist organization, "and confirms the international community's resolve to end the Haqqani Network's ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan."
Individuals selected from Zakir's training program attacked coalition force bases Salerno and Chapman in 2010, the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011 which killed 11 civilians and two Afghan policemen, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in September 2011 which killed 16 Afghans, including at least six children, Rice said in a statement.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan for five years before being driven out of power in the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001 and has been fighting President Hamid Karzai's government since it took power.
In a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts and more effectively fighting global terrorism, the U.N. Security Council decided in June 2011 to treat the Taliban and al-Qaida separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions.
The Security Council imposed sanctions against the Taliban in November 1999 for refusing to send Osama bin Laden to the United States or a third country for trial on terrorism charges in connection with the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The sanctions — a travel ban, arms embargo and assets freeze — were later extended to al-Qaida. In July 2005, the council extended the sanctions again to cover affiliates and splinter groups of al-Qaida and the Taliban.
In July 2011, the U.N. sanctions committee dropped 14 names from the Taliban blacklist at the Afghan government's urging, including several members of the peace council that president Karzai formed to find a political solution to the country's insurgency.
Rice said Monday that the committee's latest action "also reflects the Security Council's commitment to use and enforce sanctions against those who threaten peace in Afghanistan, in conjunction with a strong commitment to support Afghan-led peace and reconciliation."