Sirajuddin Haqqani (سراج الدين حقاني|Sirāj al-Dīn Ḥaqqānī, ; aliases Khalifa, and, Siraj Haqqani. born December 1979) is an Afghan Islamist militant, who has been serving as the first deputy leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) since 2016. +more Since the 2021 fall of Kabul, this position has made him the first deputy head of state of Afghanistan. The leader of the Haqqani network, a semi-autonomous paramilitary arm of the Taliban, he has primarily been active in military affairs.
Following the fall of Kabul, he was also appointed the acting interior minister of Afghanistan, giving him control over much of the country's internal security forces. As deputy leader of the Taliban, he oversaw armed combat against American and coalition forces, reportedly from a base within North Waziristan District in Pakistan. +more Haqqani is currently wanted by the FBI for questioning, with the U. S. State Department offering a reward of $10 million for information about his location that will lead to his arrest.
Born in December 1979, Sirajuddin, who has brothers from both of his father's wives (Jalaluddin having also married an Arab woman whose children live with her in the United Arab Emirates) grew up in Pakistan. Like his other siblings, he was initially homeschooled by his father before enrolling at the Anjuman Uloom Al-Qur’an, a madrasa in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in 1984, at the age of 5.
He spent his childhood in Miramshah, North Waziristan, Pakistan, and later attended Darul Uloom Haqqania, an influential Deobandi Islamic seminary in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, known to produce many graduates who ultimately joined the Taliban.
His younger brother Mohammad Haqqani, also a member of the network, died in a drone attack on February 18, 2010, in Dande Darpakhel, a village in North Waziristan.
The Arabic of the English translation of Sirajuddin is . According to one source, which provides the translation within Urdu, the name has the meaning light of the religion. +more The name Siraj, converted to Arabic, is , which similarly has the meaning of any object which produces light, or light itself, i. e. a cresset, lamp, a candle, or again, light itself, and accordingly, the Sun. Siraj is a Quranic name, in that it is used four times within the Quran, and the word is also used to describe the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The name "Haqqani" was taken from the Darul Uloom Haqqania, attended by many leading figures of the Haqqani network. Many prominent positions in the Pakistani and Afghan wings of the Taliban organization have also been held by graduates of the seminary.
Haqqani has admitted planning the January 14, 2008 attack against the Serena Hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including American citizen Thor David Hesla. Haqqani confessed his organization and direction of the planning of an attempt to assassinate Hamid Karzai, planned for April 2008. +more His forces have been accused by coalition forces of carrying out the late December 2008 bombing in Kabul at a barracks near an elementary school that killed several schoolchildren, an Afghan soldier, and an Afghan guard; no coalition personnel were affected.
In November 2008, New York Times reporter David S. +more Rohde was kidnapped in Afghanistan. His initial captors are believed to have been solely interested in a ransom. Sirajuddin Haqqani is reported to have been Rohde's last captor prior to his escape.
Several reports indicated that Haqqani was targeted in a massive U.S. drone attack on February 2, 2010, but that he was not present in the area affected by the attack.
Haqqani was appointed the second deputy leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by Leader Akhtar Mansour upon the latter's election on 29 July 2015. He was elevated to the position of first deputy leader when Hibatullah Akhundzada, who was the first deputy under Mansour, assumed the leadership on 25 May 2016.
Jalaluddin Haqqani died in 2018 after a long illness and Sirajuddin became the leader of the Haqqani network, though Jalaluddin may have turned over operational control as early as 2008.
Taliban government since 2021
When the Taliban retook control of the country in August 2021, the leader of the Islamic Emirate became Afghanistan's ruler and head of state, and the deputy leader became the country's second-most-powerful position. Haqqani was appointed the acting interior minister of Afghanistan in the Caretaker Cabinet of the Islamic Emirate on 7 September.
Haqqani gave his first ever on-camera interview in May 2022, with Christiane Amanpour in Kabul. Following the interview, he was described by Amanpour as the "heir" to Akhundzada in his capacity as deputy leader and "the most powerful member, frankly, of the current government, and indeed in the Taliban movement" due to Akhundzada's isolation in Kandahar. +more In the interview, Haqqani acknowledged concern by the international community over the treatment of women by the Taliban, and claimed women's rights would be respected, despite recent crackdowns, including an abrupt closure of secondary schools for girls and a decree requiring women to wear full-body coverings when in public. He claimed the schools would reopen once dress code issues were resolved, and said the veil decree was only advisory, despite evidence to the contrary. Haqqani also said the Taliban wants good relations with the United States and the international community, and no longer sees the U. S. as an enemy.
In 2010, Haqqani released a 144-page Pashto-language book, a training manual entitled Military Lessons for the Benefit of the Mujahedeen, where he appears more radical than the Talibans, as it shows influences from al-Qaida, supporting beheading and suicide bombings while legitimizing targeting the West, asking Muslims there to "blend in, shave, wear Western dress, be patient." Writing in November 2011, an analyst said some 10,000 copies of the book were printed and distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan in a single month, describing Haqqani’s work as being "printed on high-quality paper, with black-and-white photos and solidly bound, the manual for guerrillas and terrorists opens with directions for how to set up a jihadi cell, how to obtain financing, how to recruit members, and how to train them", also containing details about deadly weapons, how to make and use explosive devices and which infrastructure to target, such as railroad tracks, bridges and more.
When Akhtar Mansour was elected as the new leader of the Taliban in 2015, a communication was posted quoting Sirajuddin Haqqani: "My particular recommendation to all members of the Islamic Emirate is to maintain their internal unity and discipline." Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote an opinion piece titled "What We, the Taliban, Want", which appeared in The New York Times on February 20, 2020, sparking a controversy that terrorists were given the opportunity to write articles.