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$13.5 million detail about new Taliban leader

·2-min read
Screenshot of FBI's wanted poster for Sirajuddin Haqqani, American dollar bills.
Two Taliban leaders have multi-million bounties on their heads. Here's why. (Images: FBI, Getty).

The Taliban has named its interim government, featuring several key figures on the US FBI’s most-wanted list, worth millions of dollars.

The Islamic fundamentalist group, which swept back into power in August, announced the interim government on Tuesday, which includes Sirajuddin Haqqani as acting interior minister.

Haqqani has been one of the Taliban’s two deputy leaders since 2016 and has a US$10 million (AU$13.5 million) bounty on his head as a member of the FBI’s most-wanted list.

He is "wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul... that killed six people, including an American citizen", according to his FBI profile.

"He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on [former] Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008."

The FBI lists 15 aliases for Haqqani, including ‘Khalifa (Boss) Shahib’:

  • Siraj,

  • Khalifa,

  • Mohammad Siraj,

  • Sarajadin,

  • Cirodjiddin,

  • Seraj,

  • Arkani,

  • Halifa,

  • Ahmed Zia,

  • Sirajuddin Jallaloudine Haqqani,

  • Siraj Haqqani,

  • Serajuddin Haqani,

  • Siraj Haqani, and

  • Saraj Haqani.

His uncle, Khalil Haqqani, also has a US$5 million bounty for his past association with al Qaeda. He has been appointed acting minister for refugees.

The two Haqqanis have both been senior members in the militant Haqqani network, which has affiliated with the Taliban and linked to the 2017 Kabul truck bomb explosion that killed more than 150 people.

It has also been designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the US.

Khalil Haqqani is considered one of the Haqqani and Taliban networks’ leading fundraisers, US Treasury has said.

“A senior member of the Haqqani Network, Khalil Haqqani engages in fundraising activities on behalf of the Taliban and provides support to the Taliban operating in Afghanistan. As of early 2010, he provided funds to Taliban cells in Logar Province, Afghanistan,” US Treasury said in 2011.

“Khalil Haqqani is also a fundraiser for the Haqqani Network, often travelling internationally to meet with financial supporters. As of September 2009, Khalil Haqqani had traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates and had raised funds from sources there, as well as from sources in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.”

He told Afghans in August that the Taliban’s first priority will be security.

“If there is no security, there is no life. We will give security, then we will give economy, trade, education for men and women. There will be no discrimination,” he said.

The interim government, led by Mullah Hasan Akhund as prime minister, has given no indication of when elections will be held and is made up exclusively of Taliban men.

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