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Force Captures Senior Haqqani Leader in Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2011 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured the Haqqani network’s senior leader in Afghanistan during a security operation in the Jani Khel district of Afghanistan’s Paktia province, military officials reported.

Security forces detained Haji Mali Khan, uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani and the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan, on Sept. 27, officials said. He was one of the highest-ranking members of the Haqqani network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan, they added.

Mali Khan reportedly worked directly under Siraj Haqqani. He managed bases, had oversight of operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and moved forces from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity. Jalaluddin Haqqani consistently placed Mali Khan in positions of high importance.

Mali Khan served as an emissary between the late Baitullah Mahsud and senior leaders within the Haqqani leadership. Before he was killed last year, Mahsud was the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan’s top leader who provided foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, to the Taliban and Haqqani networks. He led 20,000 pro-Taliban militants and organized attacks against Pakistani and Afghan targets. Mahsud was blamed for the December 2007 assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In the past year, Mali Khan established a militant camp in Paktia province’s Mangal tribal lands, coordinated the transfer of money for insurgent operations, and facilitated the acquisition of supplies.

Although he was heavily armed during the operation that led to his capture, Mali Khan submitted to the security force without incident or resistance. The force also detained multiple additional insurgents, including Mali Khan’s deputy and bodyguard.

The Haqqani network and its safe havens remain a top priority for Afghan and coalition forces, officials said. Security forces have conducted more than 500 operations so far in 2011 in an effort to disrupt the Haqqani network leadership, resulting in the death of 20 network facilitators and the capture of nearly 300 insurgent leaders and 1,300 suspected Haqqani insurgents.

In Oct. 1 operations in Afghanistan:

-- A combined force detained a Taliban leader and killed multiple insurgents in Kandahar province’s Maiwand district. The leader operated in the Panjwai district and traveled frequently to Kandahar City. He was in charge of a large group of fighters and purchased multiple weapons each month for use in attacks throughout the region. The force also detained several suspected insurgents and confiscated 20 pounds of opium and multiple weapons.

-- A combined force in Helmand province’s Now Zad district detained multiple suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who is responsible for multiple roadside-bomb attacks, acquiring funds and ammunition for other insurgent leaders and facilitating attacks against Afghan forces.

-- In Helmand province’s Kajaki district, a combined force detained multiple suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who facilitates narcotics, as well as funding for insurgent activity in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. He also builds roadside bombs.

-- A combined force in Khost province’s Musa Khel district killed two insurgents while searching for a Haqqani network leader who facilitates weapons, as well as coordinates attacks against Afghan forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border between Khost and Paktia provinces. The insurgents were killed after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the security force. The force also detained a suspected insurgent and confiscated rocket-propelled grenade launchers, grenades, a recoilless rifle, ammunition and bomb-making materials.

-- In Wardak province’s Nerkh district, a combined force detained a suspected insurgent while searching for a Taliban leader who coordinates attacks against the local populace and Afghan forces.

-- A combined force in Laghman province’s Qarghahi district detained multiple suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who is responsible for murder, kidnapping, and the manufacturing and facilitation of roadside bombs used in attacks against Afghan forces.

In Sept. 29 operations in Afghanistan:

-- A combined security force patrol in Nangarhar province’s Kuz Kunar district detained two insurgents while targeting an insurgent network known to facilitate lethal aid used in attacks against Afghan security and coalition forces.

-- In Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force seized and destroyed seven 81 mm illumination mortars, two 81 mm mortar rounds, three 40 mm grenades, several rounds of ammunition and 30 bomb components.

-- A combined security force patrol in Zabul province’s Shinkai district detained two insurgents and seized a homemade bomb, which was safely destroyed on site.

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