The Haqqani network’s bottom lineSeptember 13, 2012
NPR’s Scott Simon recently interviewed Jackie Northam about the U.S. designation of the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization and the financial sanctions against it. The jihadist group is funded by Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI.
Northam correctly dismissed the financial impact of the designation, which prohibits U.S. business deals with the Haqqani network and freezes any assets they have in American banks, as “largely symbolic.” It does little to alter their domestic and Gulf revenue sources. An excerpt from their conversation:
SIMON: The State Department says that among other things this designation as a terrorist organization is going to ban any Americans from doing business with the Haqqanis and it’ll block any assets they hold in the U.S. What kind of potential impact could it have on the Haqqani Network?
NORTHAM: You know, Scott, the Haqqani network has shown a lot of determination to create trouble in Afghanistan and so the analysts I’ve talked with here in Pakistan say this decision really probably won’t have much of an impact and it’s really largely symbolic. They say that the Haqqani network itself doesn’t have financial interests in the U.S. and instead it has a very much a profitable business network in this area and the Persian Gulf region and a good part of it is thought to be criminal activities.
But the U.S. is hoping that this designation will just strangle any efforts by the Haqqani Network to raise funds in places like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, where there are sympathizers to their cause. But, frankly, this is really an informal network of raising money, and it could be hard to track, you know, who’s getting the money and how it’s coming into this area.
And this is part of the debate in Washington, just trying to weigh what impact blacklisting the Haqqani Network would have, versus how this decision would affect U.S./Pakistan relations going forward.
SIMON: NPR’s Jackie Northam in Islamabad, thank you.
It’s a classic too little, too late scenario: Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Carl Leven (D-MI), and Gen. David Petraeus asked Sec. Hillary Clinton to make this designation two years ago.