- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday listed a member of a Pakistan-based terrorist network linked to several deadly attacks, including one on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in September 2011, as a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Her action against Qari Zakir, chief of suicide operations in the Haqqani terrorist network, freezes his U.S. assets and prohibits U.S. citizens from helping him.

Zakir, who is also known as Abdul Rauf, is the Haqqani network’s operational commander in the Afghan capital of Kabul and in Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan provinces in Afghanistan. He leads a terrorist-training program that provides instruction in the use of small arms, heavy weapons and basic construction of roadside bombs.

The Haqqani network — led by the father-son duo Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani — operates from safe havens in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, which abuts Afghanistan. It allows al Qaeda and Taliban militants to use its safe havens in Pakistan and encourages them to fight in Afghanistan.

Zakir sought financial assistance from Sirajuddin Haqqani in 2008 in exchange for expanding the group’s influence and operations into northern Afghanistan. He has become a trusted associate and confidant of Sirajuddin Haqqani’s, according to the State Department.

Zakir has been linked to many high-profile suicide attacks in Afghanistan. Terrorists who received training in his program attacked coalition bases Salerno and Chapman in 2010, the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in September 2011. Sixteen Afghans, including at least six children, were killed in the embassy attack.

The Obama administration designated the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization in September.

But Washington has failed to press Pakistan’s government to crack down on the group, largely because of a reluctance on the part of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service, which are thought to have links to the Haqqanis. The suspected connection with the Haqqani terrorists has complicated U.S. efforts to make peace in Afghanistan.

Adm. Mike Mullen, shortly before he retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last year that the Haqqani network is a “virtual arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

The designation of Zakir was the first of a specific member of the Haqqani network since September.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the action was a way of ensuring that U.S. banks are aware that Zakir is a member of a terrorist organization.

It “makes absolutely clear that, from a U.S. government point of view, we consider him a full and guilty member of the Haqqani network, and he should be treated accordingly,” said Ms. Nuland.

The United Nations has also placed Zakir and the Haqqani network on its blacklist, requiring all member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban, and an arms embargo against them. Pakistan is a member of the United Nations.

“Today’s U.N. actions demonstrate international resolve in eliminating the Haqqani network’s ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan,” the State Department said in its statement.