FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are warning that the protection of Americans who stay in Afghanistan is “in the fingers” of the Taliban’s new inside minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the pinnacle of a chosen terror group and one of many FBI’s most-wanted terrorist operatives.
The prime Republican on the committee, Rep. John Katko, and the highest Republican on the House Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism, Rep. August Pfluger, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, first obtained by Fox News, laying out their issues after the Taliban introduced the formation of its new government in Afghanistan – together with Haqqani as inside minister.
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“As you might be conscious, the continued disaster in Afghanistan continues to pose elevated terrorism danger to Americans each at dwelling and overseas,” they wrote to Mayorkas.
“With American residents and our Afghan allies awaiting permission from the Taliban to depart the nation on chartered flights – a beforehand unthinkable situation that’s wholly unacceptable to the American individuals – we’re urgently involved in regards to the Taliban’s naming of one of many FBI’s most-wanted terrorist operatives, Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of a terrorist group generally known as the Haqqani community, because the nation’s performing inside minister,” they wrote.
Further, Katko and Pfluger warned that people serving as inside ministers typically maintain authorities “associated to insurance policies governing safety, border enforcement and transportation,” saying that they’re “involved that the protection of American residents could now be straight in the fingers of a identified terrorist operative.”
Biden administration officers mentioned this week that “slightly below” 100 Americans stay in Afghanistan. The State Department, on Monday, touted the secure evacuation of 4 American residents from the nation – with out interference from the Taliban.
The Biden administration accomplished a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, after airlifting greater than 124,000 Americans and Afghan allies to security following the Taliban’s swift takeover of the nation. Administration officers have mentioned the mission has shifted from a navy one to “diplomatic,” sustaining that they’re working with Americans nonetheless in Afghanistan to get them in a foreign country.
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“We are involved that this newfound energy in the fingers of the Haqqani Network could additional exacerbate circumstances resulting in Afghanistan turning into a terrorist secure haven, accelerating plotting towards the United States emanating from Afghanistan,” they wrote.
Haqqani leads the Haqqani community, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 2012. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence describes the community as “a Sunni Islamist militant group” that’s “liable for among the highest-profile assaults of the Afghan warfare.”
“The Haqqanis are thought-about probably the most deadly and complicated rebel group focusing on U.S., Coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan,” in response to the DNI report. “They sometimes conduct coordinated small-arms assaults coupled with rocket assaults, IEDs, suicide assaults and assaults utilizing bomb-laden automobiles.”
U.S. officers have blamed the Haqqani community for quite a few high-profile assaults in Afghanistan, together with the 2011 assault on the Kabul International Hotel and a pair of suicide bombings on the Indian Embassy. The group had additionally attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2011 and is blamed for “the biggest truck bomb ever constructed,” a 61,500-pound system intercepted by Afghan safety forces in 2013.
Haqqani is also called the pinnacle of the Taliban’s navy technique, and was positioned in cost of safety in Kabul after the militants seized the town final month. His precise age is unclear, however he’s believed to have been born in both Afghanistan or Pakistan between 1973 and 1980, in response to the FBI, which positioned him on its most wanted checklist and is providing a $5 million reward.
His father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, based their namesake jihadist group and handed over management earlier than his demise in 2018 at 71. But in the Nineteen Eighties, the elder Haqqani was among the many U.S.-backed mujahedeen warlords battling a Soviet Union invasion and was an in depth buddy and mentor of the slain al Qaeda terrorist Usama bin Laden, in response to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence’s Counterterrorism Guide.
Since 2008, Sirajuddin Haqqani has been wanted for questioning in connection with a Kabul resort bombing that killed six individuals, together with one American. He can be suspected of coordinating and participating in assaults towards U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and enjoying a task in the failed assassination try of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
He has a protracted lists of aliases, in response to the FBI: Siraj, Khalifa, Mohammad Siraj, Sarajadin, Cirodjiddin, Seraj, Arkani, Khalifa (Boss) Shahib, Halifa, Ahmed Zia, Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani, Siraj Haqqani, Serajuddin Haqani, Siraj Haqani and Saraj Haqani.
And he’s not the one member of the Haqqani community with affect throughout the Taliban.
Sirajuddin Haqqani’s youthful brother, Anas Haqqani, was freed as a part of a prisoner alternate in 2019 that additionally secured the discharge of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, who had been held hostage by Taliban fighters for over three years. Then he led a Taliban delegation to satisfy with ex-officials of the toppled Afghan government final month. After the Taliban seized Kabul final month, Haqqani’s uncle, Khalil Haqqani, delivered public remarks on the metropolis’s largest mosque – receiving cheers in response, in response to The New York Times.
The Republicans additionally pointed to the Aug. 26 suicide bombing in Kabul, which took the lives of 13 U.S. service members, saying that with Haqqani having “identified ties to al Qaeda, together with supporting comparable suicide bombing assaults,” they “battle to know how the Biden administration’s reliance on vaguely articulated ‘over-the-horizon’ counterterrorism capabilities might be enough in defending the homeland.”
Republicans additionally pointed to a current assertion made by Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who mentioned “there’s a minimum of an excellent chance of a broader civil warfare and that may then in flip result in circumstances that might, in truth, result in a reconstitution of al Qaeda or a progress of ISIS or different myriad terrorist teams.”
Republicans went on to demand solutions as to how the Department of Homeland Security is supporting diplomatic efforts to evacuate the remaining Americans in Afghanistan and Afghan allies, amid reviews that the Taliban is stopping flights from leaving.
As for these looking for to depart Afghanistan, together with Americans, a Taliban spokesperson mentioned people haven’t been in a position to go away if they don’t have correct documentation, however mentioned the creation of the new government would assist to raised facilitate departures.
“Regarding the flights, they should obey our legislation,” Zabijullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, mentioned. “They should have correct paperwork and if they do not have paperwork, we is not going to permit them to go.”
He defined that people “should have passports, should have visas, and we have now to have an exit stamp on their passports – from now, we have had nothing.”
“Tomorrow, on, we will certainly restart the work of departments after which individuals will be capable to journey overseas,” he mentioned. “So, the subsequent few days, individuals will be capable to journey overseas.”
Republicans additionally requested for any intelligence that DHS has associated to the Haqqani community’s operations in Afghanistan and the area, whether or not the community maintains “exterior plotting capabilities for terrorist assaults,” and if DHS has assessed Haqqani’s appointment to be a sign of an in depth relationship between the Taliban and terrorist teams.
“How will DHS navigate potential interactions with a identified terrorist on safety points underneath management of the Taliban’s inside ministry, together with interactions pertinent to DHS efforts to assist evacuate American residents and Afghan allies, equivalent to border enforcement and vetting?” they wrote.
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“What influence does having the Haqqani community ingrained with Afghanistan’s senior Taliban management have on DHS’s total evaluation of terrorist threats to the United States?” they added.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week admitted that there’s “no query” will probably be “harder to establish and interact threats that emanate from the area” after the total withdrawal of U.S. troops, however mentioned the U.S. is “dedicated to creating positive that that threats aren’t allowed to develop that might create important challenges for us in the homeland.”
The Taliban, on Tuesday, formally introduced the formation of its new government. The Taliban spokesperson mentioned positions throughout the government are actually in an “performing capability,” however many members of the previous guard are a part of the new government.
The government, in response to a report by the BBC, might be led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as deputy. Other appointments embody Mullah Yaqoob as performing protection minister and Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi as a second deputy.
Despite the Taliban’s announcement of its new government, the White House is in “no rush” to acknowledge them as authentic.
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“There’s no rush to recognition, and that might be deliberate depending on what steps the Taliban takes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned. “The world might be watching whether or not they permit for American residents, whether or not they permit people to depart who need to, and the way they deal with girls and women across the nation.”
She added: “I haven’t got a timeline for you.”
Psaki’s feedback come after President Biden, on Monday, mentioned recognition of the Taliban government was “a good distance off.”
“That’s a good distance off,” he mentioned once more.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.