Taliban confirms death of Haqqani Network founder Jalalauddin Haqqani

Jalaluddin Haqqani founder of the militant group the Haqqani network speaks during an interview in Miram Shah Pakistan

Jalaluddin Haqqani founder of the militant group the Haqqani network speaks during an interview in Miram Shah Pakistan

The Taliban statement said Jalaluddin Haqqani had been ill and bed-ridden for several years.

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Haqqani used his Arabic language skills to forge close ties with Arab jihadists, including Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who came to the region during the war.

It marks the third time US forces have killed a leader of ISIS in Afghanistan since 2016, according to a NATO Resolute Support statement.

The network is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.

Rumours about Haqqani's death have circulated for years. This is the first time the militant network has confirmed his death.

The Haqqani network was described by U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen in 2011 as a "veritable arm" of Pakistani intelligence that has provided safe havens for militant groups fighting foreign and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. But he joined the radical Taliban movement after they took over the country in 1996.

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The Taliban said he died after "a long struggle with a disease", according to the monitoring group Site.

After his death was announced, the Haqqani family released a statement that said security issues prevented the holding of communal prayers for him and instead urged his followers to gather in mosques and "jihadi" centers around the country and offer prayers in his name. Instead, the group may feel it necessary to stage a major attack against USA interests in the region to demonstrate its vitality even as its founder died. Haqqani originally founded the group as part of an anti-Soviet jihad.

Haqqani was praised by the late United States congressman Charlie Wilson as "goodness personified".

Unverified reports have placed Jalaluddin in Pakistan in recent years. Jalaluddin Haqqani was 71. He was once funded by the Central Intelligence Agency and lionised by some in the US. "Haqqani functions more in the military area, and is not a force in setting Taliban political or social issues", the cables read.

Haqqani's main tactical legacy in Afghanistan is ignominious: He is largely credited with introducing suicide bombings as a tactic to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. One senior Afghan official said the death announcement now was probably related to a planned visit this week to Pakistan by senior USA officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are seeking an end to the Afghan war.

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