The Taliban has accused American forces of being behind this month’s arrest of the youngest son of the founder of the feared Haqqani Network, rejecting Kabul’s assertions he was apprehended inside Afghanistan along with another suspected key militant commander.
Afghan security officials Thursday announced the men were arrested in southeastern Afghanistan and identified them as Anas Haqqani, the son of veteran Afghan guerilla commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Hafiz Rashid, suspected to be the military commander for insurgent operations in the southeastern provinces.
“The claims of the Kabul regime that both men are military commanders of the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan, a reference to the Taliban's ousted government] and have been detained in a complex operation inside the country are an absolute fabrication far away from any reality,” said a Taliban statement emailed to media outlets late on Friday. It alleged the men were captured by "the American forces in Bahrain from where they were sent back to Qatar and then handed over to Kabul via United Arab Emirates."
It described Anas Haqqani as a final year student, saying he and Rashid have no affiliation to the Taliban insurgency and both had gone to the Gulf state of Qatar to meet their relatives who had recently been freed from the U.S.-run prison in Guantanamo Bay.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, Abdul Haseeb Sediqi, says Anas Haqqani “was directly involved in operational and strategic decisions of the network, and ran its fundraising campaign” in Gulf countries, besides overseeing its social media propaganda activities using his “special computer skills.”
The spokesman said the other captured militant, Rashid, was a key Haqqani commander was who was until recently living in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The al-Qaida-linked Haqqani Network is blamed for staging some of the deadliest attacks against NATO and Afghan targets from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan border region.