Haqqani Network a Terrorist Group: US

Washington, Sep 7 (IANS): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has formally designated the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated militant group held responsible for the 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul, as a terrorist organisation.

In a statement Friday, Clinton said she had reported to Congress that the group, which is believed to have been responsible for several other high-profile attacks and kidnappings, "meets the statutory criteria... for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation".

Top leaders of the organisation had already been designated terrorists by the State and Treasury departments, but this is the first time the entire group has been recognised as such.

"The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with, the Haqqani Network, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organisation that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of US persons," Clinton said.

Clinton said she made the decision "in the context of our overall strategy in Afghanistan".

Her decision comes at the tail end of a 30-day deadline for the designation that was pushed by Congress.

The Haqqanis have been accused of launching deadly cross-border attacks in Afghanistan on US soldiers and Afghan civilians, including the suicide bombings at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel last June.

Clinton's announcement followed a report earlier Friday from The New York Times in which a senior administration official said the move "shows that we are using everything we can to put the squeeze on these guys".

Administration officials were reportedly hesitant to officially call the network a terror organisation because it could hurt America's already icy relationship with Pakistan.

The Haqqani network is believed to have close ties to the Pakistani government and its powerful ISI intelligence agency.


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