The Haqqani Network: The Background

In an Associated Press dispatch of September 7, the day the Haqqani network was labeled a terrorist organization by the United States Government, Matthew Lee and Bradley Klepper stated that the network of Jalaludin Haqqani was "a leading recipient of CIA money" during the Afghan mujahidin struggle against the Soviet Union. Another AP dispatch of the same date by Sebastian Abbot and Kimberly Dozier claimed that the network functioned "with extensive support from U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services." While this was basically the case, a few clarifications are in order. In the first place there was no aid furnished directly by the CIA to the mujahidin groups fighting the Soviets. It was done essentially through the Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI. As agreed between the then ISI chief Gen. Akhtar and the CIA, the aid was to be furnished to seven resistance parties. They were:

  • Hizb Islami (Gulbuddin) (HIG), led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
  • Jamiat-i-Islami, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani. Ahmed Shah Masood was the major commander in this group.
  • Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan, led by Abdurrassul Sayyaf.
  • Hizb Islami (Khalis) (HIK) led by Yunis Khalis. Jalaludin Haqqani was one of the major commanders in this group. Abdal Haq was another HIK commander.
  • Revolutionary Islamic Movement, led by Mohammed Nabi Mohammadi.
  • Afghanistan National Liberation Front, led by Sibaghtullah Mojadeddi.
  • National Islamic Front for Afghanistan, led by Ahmed Gailani.

The list was largely put together by Gen. Akhtar, who as a Pashtun clearly favored Gulbuddin over the Tadjik-based Jamiat but nevertheless put both groups on an equal basis at the top. It is true that Gulbuddin is alive and well and perpetrating terrorist actions in Afghanistan today, as is the Haqqani network, which has been particularly active in terrorist actions in the Kabul region, including against Americans. But one may ask the question as to whether it was not worthwhile to have assisted in driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan and, what is more important strategically, to have unquestionably helped to bring about the end of the Cold War... all accomplished without American casualties in Afghanistan at that time.

Charles Cogan was from mid-1979 to mid-1984 chief of the Near East and South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations of the CIA. This was the division that directed the American aid to the mujahidin through the Pakistani ISI.