Sirajuddin Haqqani Disappears from Public Life 5 Days After Zawahiri’s Killing in Kabul

8/5/2022

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting minister of interior of the Taliban, has not been seen in public since the killing of the al-Qaeda leader in Kabul on Sunday.

Haqqani has also not responded to claims that al-Zawahiri was living under his protection in Kabul.

Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, has claimed that several leaders of the Haqqani network, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, have left Kabul for their hideouts in southwestern Afghanistan after al-Zawahiri was killed in a US drone strike.

He told Voice of America (VoA) that Sirajuddin Haqqani was last seen in a few short videos that the Taliban's Interior Ministry tweeted on August 1. In these videos, Haqqani is seen greeting and talking with people in the rural areas of Paktia Province.

Nabil said, "After the attack on al-Zawahiri, Sirajuddin Haqqani has left for Paktia province and everyone, including his closest aides, have gone into hiding. They were not seen in the Ministry of Interior in Kabul."

The Taliban said on Thursday that they did not know about al- Zawahiri's presence in the heart of Kabul, which was located less than one kilometer away from the Taliban's General Directorate of Intelligence. However, the US authorities contradict the group’s claims.

In response to the question of whether the Taliban knew about al-Zawahiri's presence in Kabul, US National Security Council’s spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that "senior members of the Haqqani network knew”.

Bounty of $10 million on his head

Haqqani, the 42-year-old interior minister of the Taliban and the leader of the Haqqani network with a $10 million bounty on his head, is not the only terrorist of the Haqqani family that the United States has set a reward for information leading to their arrest.

The United States has put a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Khalil ur Rahman Haqqani, Sirajuddin's uncle, who is the minister of refugee affairs in the Taliban cabinet, and Aziz Haqqani, Sirajuddin's younger brother.

There is no cash reward for the arrest of Yahya Haqqani, a close aide and brother-in-law of Sirajuddin, but he was also designated as a global terrorist by the United States in 2014.

The Haqqanis are wanted for being involved in killings and organising a series of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan since 2008.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is accused of planning the January 14, 2008, attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. Six people, including an American citizen, had been killed in the attack. In March 2008, the US State Department designated Sirajuddin Haqqani as a global terrorist.

In February 2008, Khalil Haqqani was also named a wanted terrorist by the US law enforcement and security agencies. Among other terrorist activities, Khalil Haqqani is accused of providing weapons and financial resources to al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.

The Haqqanis had lived so secretly that no photos of Sirajuddin had been published until a few months after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021. Sirajuddin and Khalil Haqqani boast of the victory against the US and claim themselves as the liberating forces of Kabul.

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