AfPak Channel: The Haqqanis and al-Qaeda
A quick comment since I’ve just been tidying up some thesis stuff relating to an article I just caught on FP while sneaking a quick coffee break.
It is interesting, but if you are going to talk Haqqani and his history the first stop for reading absolutely should be Abu Walid al-Masri’s books, and his series profiling Haqqani in the Taliban magazine (who he has known since the beginning of the first Afghan War, and arguably through whose links the AQ-Haqqani relationship developed).
AQ was not really as affiliated with Haqqani as it was with Sayyaf and then Hekmatyar.
It’s actually why some former mujahideen have commented on AQ’s lack of combat experience during the first Afghan war viz other groupings. Those who wanted to fight went to join Haqqani, or at least tried to go fight with him. He was not a fan of untrained numpties trying to go to the frontlines. Those who remained with Sayyaf and co did not see as much action. AQ was in areas first under Sayyaf, and then Hekmatyar. AQ also declined to assist a training effort Abu Walid and Haqqani along with some others were trying to establish circa 86. Instead OBL went off and established al-Masada, against everyone’s advice. And the two AQ guys who were close to Haqqani, Hafs al Masri and Ubaida al Banshiri (because they fought with him in 84 I think it was), went off to Jaji to “minimise the damage” after a meeting was held in Islamabad about how to deal with OBL’s actions. After the Jaji battles, AQ went to Jihad Wal, which was Hekmatyar’s turf and OBL payed him rent to establish training camps there, which remained in operation until the US missile strikes in 98.
For those interested in Haqqani’s marriage links (mentioned in the article). He married into a Yemeni family, if memory serves. It’s in the books somewhere.
To me the question is not about the historical links because they were not that strong, but rather what factors have contributed to them being friends with benefits now. And on the basis of this how strong these links are and under what conditions they will endure, and what might cause them to fragment in the future. I am also interested in whether this relationship has strengthened in recent times, why this might be the case, and the role generational change may have played in this process. For example Haqqani’s sons and where they fit. They are mixing in a very different milieu than what existed in Afghanistan either under the Taliban or during the first Afghan war and so the potential for ideological bleed over is stronger. The question here though is whose ideology? I could go off on a tangent and talk the IMU and IJU but this is all I have time for tonight.
Also recommended reading is Sirajuddin Haqqani’s town hall meeting this year. His responses, or lack thereof in some instances, really put the spotlight on a few of these areas. I didn’t save a copy but it should be floating around out there and for those of you with OSC access I imagine it got translated.
Ok that’s the coffee break over, back to the thesis for me.