The Obama administration has named a senior member of the Haqqani network a specially designated global terrorist, slapping sanctions on the commander as it continues to ramp up pressure on the Pakistan-based group.
The commander, Mali Khan, was recently captured in Afghanistan during a combined Afghan and coalition operation. U.S. officials have identified him as a key coordinator for the Haqqani network, and, in a statement, the State Department said his deputy had provided support to the suicide bombers who carried out the deadly attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel in June.
“Mali Khan has overseen hundreds of fighters, and has instructed his subordinates to conduct terrorist acts,” the State Department said.
The new designation, announced Tuesday, freezes any assets Khan has in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from engaging in any transactions with him. More broadly, it sends a message that U.S. officials are continuing to exert pressure on the Haqqani network, even as they try to force the group into serious negotiations over a political resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Khan is one of a handful of Haqqani network leaders who have been added to the U.S. list of specially designated terrorists. The State Department last added a member of the group to the list in August.
Since that time, the Obama administration has launched a far more aggressive drone campaign against the group, claiming that its fighters were behind a series of deadly attacks against U.S. and coalition forces, as well as civilians, in Afghanistan.
“I don’t think we could have any more of a robust military effort [in the region] at this point,” an Obama administration official told The Post, “given what’s been done on the Afghan side of the border over the last few weeks, given the ongoing kind of other efforts to target [Haqqani] leadership.”
“That will continue as aggressively and robustly as it has,” the official said, adding: “That does not mean . . . that it will necessarily foreclose opportunities on the talk side, recognizing that we have to keep an open mind.”