Sirajuddin Haqqani is a Taliban militant and one of the supreme leaders of the Haqqani network, a listed foreign terrorist organization. In September 2021, when the Taliban government was formed for the second time, he entered the cabinet as the Minister of Interior Affairs of Afghanistan and was made one of two deputies to Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban supreme commander. Sirajuddin Haqqani is on the FBI’s list of wanted.
Sirajuddin Haqqani was born either in 1973 or 1980 FBI (age 48 years or 41 years; as of 2021) either in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. FBI His upbringing took place in Miramshah, North Waziristan, Pakistan. In his formative years, he attended Darul Uloom Haqqania Deobandi Islamic seminary in Pakistan and graduated in Islamic studies. Stanford University
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Parents & Siblings
His father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was an Afghan leader of the Haqqani network, who died on 3 September 2018. Jalaluddin also served as the minister of tribal affairs in the Taliban’s first government (1996-2001).
Sirajuddin’s father married two women, one was Pashtun, while the other belonged to the United Arab Emirates, and Sirajuddin is from the latter one. He has two brothers from both wives of his father. His brother Anas Haqqani is a senior leader of the Haqqani network.
His brother Mohammad Haqqani (from his father’s Pashtun wife) was also a senior leader of the Haqqani network, who died in a drone attack on 18 February 2010 in Dande Darpakhel, a village in North Waziristan.
Wife & Children
There is not much information about his marital status.
Religion & Sect
The Haqqani Network
As an Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, to fight against the Soviet forces, Us-led NATO forces, and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government. By 1995, the Haqqani network had become part of the Taliban following which it was termed as the “most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group” by the U.S. government.
As noted in a Stanford University report on the Haqqani network, Sirajuddin managed the distribution and training of weapons by the network before becoming its leader. According to reports, the group operates from Miram Shah in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in northern Pakistan, where they establish camps to conduct activities like arms acquisition, suicide bomber training, and logistical planning for military campaigns. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence has often been reported by the U.S. and Kabul officials to provide covert shelters for the Taliban and the Haqqani network; however, Pakistan doesn’t align itself with this fact. Some sources have quoted that the Haqqani network has a strength of 3,000 to over 10,000 fighters; however, in an interview, Sirajuddin said,
That figure is actually less than the actual number.”
According to reports, the network is funded by wealthy Gulf citizens. Haqqani speaks Arabic fluently and is well connected to many Arab Gulf organizations and people, and he has made frequent travels to the Arab Gulf to raise funds for the network. The network is also known to generate funds from criminal activities, including the smuggling of mineral supplies from Afghanistan. In addition to its alliances with the Taliban, the Haqqani network has affiliations with numerous other militant groups, such as al-Qaida, Tehreek-i-Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. The network is reported to have executed numerous attacks against the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the US-led NATO forces since 2001.
Leading The Haqqani Network in a Different Style
In 2004, Haqqani and several of his relatives, including his uncles Ibrahim Haqqani and Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, came to assume a greater role in the group. The death of Jalaluddin in 2018 led to Sirajuddin replacing him as the head of the Haqqani network. Sirajuddin is viewed as being even more ruthless than his father. Sirajuddin Haqqani led an expansion of the militant movement that was more violent and ambitious than that of his father, undermining the authority of the Afghan government and Western interests. Sirajuddin Haqqani is known to employ far more lethal tactics than his father, including videos of beheadings and assassinations, tactics that were shunned by the Quetta Shura Taliban under Omar. Stanford University
Post 9/11 Activities
Following 9/11, the Haqqani network’s leaders started using political acts to gain power rather than engaging in global jihad against the West as Al Qaeda did. In 2008, for example, he formed a partnership with Abdul Rauf Zakir, a key Afghan commander who asked the Haqqani network for financial support in exchange for expanding Haqqani influence and operations in Kabul and select northern provinces, like Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan. In the years since, Zakir has become Sirajuddin Haqqani’s closest confidante, taking over suicide operations for the network and helping to facilitate its high-profile suicide attacks.
As a deputy Taliban military leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani has fought many wars and battles including War on Terror (2001-present), Afghan Civil War (1996–2001), War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Taliban insurgency (December 2001 – August 2021), Operation Zarb-e-Azb (2014-2017), and the 2021 Taliban offensive.
Wanted by the FBI
The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. The FBI wants him to be questioned as well. An FBI poster says Haqqani was wanted in connection with a hotel attack in Kabul in January 2008 in which six people were killed, including an American. Moreover, according to FBI reports, Haqqani coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States coalition troops in Afghanistan.
Key Portfolio in the Taliban’s 2nd Term
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan named him Minister of Interior on 7 September 2021, following the Taliban’s return to the country.
- He goes by many aliases like Siraj, Khalifa, Mohammad Siraj, Sarajadin, Cirodjiddin, Seraj, Arkani, Khalifa (Boss) Shahib, Halifa, Ahmed Zia, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, Siraj Haqqani, Serajuddin Haqani, Siraj Haqani, and Saraj Haqani. FBI
- The Urdu translation of his name, Sirajuddin, means ‘light of the religion.’
- The first major attack that he planned was on Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan that he executed on 14 January 2008. In the attack, six people were killed including an American, Thor David Hesla. FBI
- Sirajuddin has also confessed that the attempt to assassinate Hamid Karzai in April 2008 was also organized and coordinated by him.
- In November 2008, when a New York Times reporter, David S. Rohde, was kidnapped in Afghanistan, it was initially believed that the kidnap was only for a ransom; however, before David escaped, he was last reported to be in the captivity of Sirajuddin Haqqani. New York
- According to coalition forces, the bombing in late December 2008 near an elementary school in Kabul was carried out by Sirajuddin Haqqani and his forces. Although no coalition personnel was injured in the bombing, it killed several schoolchildren, an Afghan soldier, and an Afghan guard.
- Various reports claim that Sirajuddin Haqqani escaped a massive drone attack by the United States that was targeted at him on 2 February 2010. CNN
- Acoording to a report in March 2010, the Taliban’s Quetta Shura listed Sirajuddin as one of its key leaders.
- In 2010, Sirajuddin Haqqani released a book titled ‘Military Lessons for the Benefit of Mujahedeen.’ The 144-page Pashto-language book supported beheading and suicide bombings while legitimizing targeting the West.
- In a rare telephonic interview that he gave to Reuters in September 2011, Sirajuddin said,
Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people. Senior military and police officials are with us.”
He further said,
There are sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban as they know our goal is the liberation of our homeland from the clutches of occupying forces.”
- On 5 September 2013, Sirajuddin Haqqani’s deputy Sangeen Zadran was killed by a US drone strike.
- In 2015, Akhtar Mansour was elected as the Taliban’s leader following which Sirajuddin posted a communication that reads,
My particular recommendation to all members of the Islamic Emirate is to maintain their internal unity and discipline…”
- In August 2016, Sirajuddin was made deputy of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. According to a 26 May 2016 report, Sirajuddin’s role as a deputy was majorly focused on military affairs.
- After The New York Times published an opinion piece titled “What We, the Taliban, Want” by Sirajuddin Haqqani on 20 February 2020, the media house was heavily criticised for providing a platform for terrorists to publish their articles.
- According to the British Taliban expert Antonio Guistozzi, Sirajuddin was tested positive for the COVID-19 on 31 May 2020 following which he was absent from the group’s leadership.
- In an interview, Sirajuddin claimed that in the past, the Haqqani network rejected several peace proposals from the United States and President Hamid Karzai’s government as it was an attempt to “create divisions” among militant groups. He said,
They offered us very very important positions but we rejected and told them they would not succeed in their nefarious designs. They wanted to divide us.”