Haqqani network may be added to US list of foreign terrorist organizations


A Pakistani protester holds a burning US flag as others shout slogans during a protest in Multan on October 31, 2011 against US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal region. Relations between Pakistan and the United States deteriorated after the May 2, 2011 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and again over accusations that Pakistani intelligence was involved with the Haqqani network.



The Obama administration has just days to decide whether it will name the Haqqani network, a militant group with ties to Pakistan that is active in Afghanistan, to its list of terrorist organizations.

In advance of a Congressional reporting deadline, The New York Times reports that the administration "appears ready to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, risking a new breach in relations with Pakistan."

According to the Times, senior military officials and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton want the ability to levy sanctions against the network. Clinton is "leaning toward designating the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization," though administration officials are still grappling with the decision, according to the Times.

The Washington Post described members of the Obama administration as "deeply divided" over the decision. Official designation as a foreign terrorist organization would require that the group's threat to US national security be shown to meet certain criteria.

If the designation is made, it could change significantly how the US engages with the network. "[Foreign Terrorist Organization] designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism," the State Department says on its website. The US currently names 51 foreign groups it considers to be terrorist organizations.

The Haqqani network has been "considered the most lethal opponent of US forces in Afghanistan," the Washington Post wrote. American officials consider the network to be "a strategic asset of Pakistan’s powerful spy agency," according to The New York Times. Based in North Waziristan, Pakistan, the network also has ties with the Taliban, according to the Institute for the Study of War.