The Haqqani Network: Terrorists or Insurgents

Topics: Terrorism, Haqqani network, U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations Pages: 6 (2160 words) Published: November 12, 2012
The definition of terrorism is broad and open to interpretation. Hoffman, in his book Inside Terrorism, suggests that terrorism is “the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change.” Schwartz, Dunkel, et al, define terrorism in their Studies in Conflict & Terrorism article entitled Terrorism: An Identity Theory Perspective, as “the deliberate targeting of civilian sites for attacks designed to result in destruction of those sites and/or the injury and death of noncombatant civilians.” Together, these two perspectives coupled with identity theory and will serve as the basis for an evaluation of the Haqqani network and their interrelationships and interactions with known terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qa’ida as well as with Pakistan’s military and government intelligence agencies. The Haqqani Network: Who Are They and Why do We Care?

The Haqqani network is an Afghan and Pakistani group of fighters that operates primarily in southeastern Afghanistan as a semi-autonomous component of the Taliban with close ties to Pakistan’s Army and intelligence agencies (Rassler et al. July 14, 2011, p. 1-2). The Haqqani network’s leadership structure is hierarchical in nature with members of the patriarch’s family filling top leadership roles (Rassler et al. July 14, 2011, p. 7). This familial structure is an important cultural identity marker “that can serve to promote terrorist activities.” Furthermore, Schwartz, Dunkel, et al address the family as it relates to upholding honor and “avenging wrongs done to the family.” This is interesting because even those who sympathize and support terrorism, but don’t actually participate in it, often share the same level of social identity based upon their group affiliations. This tends to show how the Haqqani network is able to exert its influence over their colleague groups without actually having to be in control of them. It appears to be a symbiotic relationship where the Haqqani network clearly benefits from bi-directional credibility of association with the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. Rassler et al support this claim when they discuss the relationship between senior Haqqani network leaders and their close operational relationships with the Taliban and al-Qa’ida, revealing that there is often no distinction. This shared identity-based connection legitimizes the Haqqani network with the segment of the Afghan society that believes in radical Islam and jihad. This was evidenced when the Haqqani network helped “sustain al-Qa’ida’s relevance and branding as the leader of the global jihadist movement.” All in all, it appears the Haqqani network just wants their proverbial place at the table so to speak. Clearly, it must be working, as current assessments put the strength of the group close to 15,000 fighters. The Haqqani Network: Duplicity at Work

American intelligence and military officials claim the Haqqani network is a “proxy force used by the Pakistani intelligence service [Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence {ISI} agency] to carry out grisly, high-profile attacks.” The question here is whether this is a relationship of convenience or an alliance due to shared identity. The secret relationship with ISI coupled with links to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban clearly shows the need to solicit support (e.g., material, financial, spiritual, etc.) and ultimately rally the masses behind them. Furthermore, “for decades, [the Haqqani network has been] a mentor to Arab, Uzbek, Chechen, Turkish, and Pakistani jihadists.” These associations speak to the core of shared identity and the interactions among the groups, as according to Schwartz, Dunkel, et al social and cultural identity is formed when members come together based upon common beliefs shared across the group, and individual identity represents personally chosen goals, values, and beliefs coupled with their perspectives of the world around...
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