KABUL (Reuters) – NATO-led forces said yesterday that they had captured the senior commander for the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, Haji Mali Khan, during an operation in eastern Paktia province earlier in the week.
Khan is “the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani … one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
Siraj, or Sirajuddin, Haqqani and his brother, Badruddin, are sons of veteran Afghan militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.
NATO said Khan had managed bases and operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and moved forces across the border for attacks, as well as transferring funds and sourcing supplies. The force called him “the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan”.
Khan was captured on Tuesday in Jani Khel district of Paktia province along with his deputy and bodyguard, in an operation by Afghan and foreign forces, NATO said.
He was heavily armed but “submitted … without incident or resistance,” the force said. It did not detail how they had identified Khan.
The Taliban, to whom the Haqqani network has pledged allegiance, denied that Khan had been captured.
“I have just spoken with Haji Mali Khan, he is fine and is somewhere else and hasn’t been detained,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. “This is a baseless news and it has been released in order to weaken Mujahideen’s morale,” he said.
Members of the Haqqani network declined to comment on the ISAF statement, but confirmed to Reuters that Khan is Sirajuddin Haqqani’s maternal uncle.