ISLAMABAD: A senior leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, one of the most feared militant groups fighting US troops in Afghanistan, was shot dead on the outskirts of Islamabad, a Pakistani Taleban commander and an intelligence official said Monday.
Nasiruddin Haqqani was gunned down on Sunday night in a residential area of Islamabad called Bhara Kahu, which is only a couple miles from the US Embassy.
The Haqqani network is a key ally of the Afghan Taleban and has pledged allegiance to its leader, Mullah Omar, though it operates fairly independently. Nasiruddin’s presence in the Pakistani capital could raise questions in Washington. US officials have accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network as a key proxy in the Afghan war — an allegation denied by Islamabad.
His death will also likely raise questions in Pakistan since he was wanted by the Americans, and the US is often accused of running an elaborate spy network across the country. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the killing.
After the shooting, Nasiruddin’s body was taken to the town of Miran Shah in the North Waziristan tribal area — the Haqqani network’s main sanctuary in Pakistan — where he is expected to be buried Monday afternoon, the Taleban commander, Ahsanullah Ahsan, and the intelligence official said. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.
Nasiruddin was considered an important financier and emissary for the Haqqani network, which is currently led by his brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Their father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded the group and is well-known for fighting the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
The US Treasury slapped sanctions on Nasiruddin in 2010 when it added him to its list of specially designated global terrorists. The Treasury said Nasiruddin, who is known to speak Arabic, has traveled to some countries to raise money for the Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda and the Taleban.
The US has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan carry out an operation in North Waziristan to target the Haqqani network and other militants based there who conduct cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan. The group is blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, especially in the capital, Kabul.