A spokesman for the Taliban has dismissed the United States government’s move to freeze the assets of three known jihadists, as propaganda. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department declared that Yahya Haqqani, Maulawi Sayedullah, and Muhammed Omar were considered to be global terrorists, which means that any assets they have held within the United States are to be frozen. The three are members of the Haqqani network, a militant organization believed to be based in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Waziristan tribal region that aims to help the Taliban re-establish sharia law in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network has been responsible for many high profile attacks against foreign troops, including an attack in 2012 on the U.S. embassy in Kabul. The group was founded by former Taliban military commander, Mawlawl Jalaluddin Haqqani, and is believed to have roughly 10,000 members. The network has not endorsed global jihad as a primary objective, rather focusing its attention on waging war against NATO troops in Afghanistan and destabilizing the Western backed administration of Hamid Karzai.
In 2012, the United States State Department officially declared the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization and members of Congress have recently been intensifying calls for the Obama administration to do more to combat the group.
According to intelligence, Sayedullah is an operational commander responsible for recruiting, Yahya is responsible for the network’s propaganda, military, and financial activities, and Omar is suspected or carrying out a number of attacks inside of Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, the Treasury Department passed the measures freezing the three jihadists’ assets. Speaking on the situation, David Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said “Where we have the opportunity to disrupt this network and undermine its ability to finance its activities, we will take action. Today’s (Wednesday’s) action underscores our resolve to continue targeting any potential means of support for the Haqqanis.”
On Thursday, a spokesman for the Taliban dismissed this move as U.S. propaganda. In a statement on their website, they proclaimed “We condemn this ineffective and theatrical blacklisting by America on top of which we also believe to be an illustration of the abject failure and defeat of America.”
According to the website, no members of the Haqqani network or Taliban even have trade relationships with America nor accounts in the U.S.’s “interest plagued banks.” The spokesman claims that “the reality is that America has lost militarily in Afghanistan and now wants to atone this military defeat with petty propaganda war.”
Dismissing the United State’s decision to freeze those three accounts as propaganda will likely have little effect on U.S. policy in the region, but shows the Taliban is resurgent, confident, and will likely influence the political future of Afghanistan. While Taliban propaganda is not at all uncommon, bold statements claiming outright victory have become more frequent anticipating the U.S. troop withdrawal scheduled to begin this year. The Taliban has had a recent political surge, largely in part to Karzai stating that his government is unwilling to sign a security agreement with the United States without first initiating peace talks with the Taliban. The Taliban’s branch in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is currently undergoing peace talks with the Pakistani government hoping to establish a cease fire in the Waziristan region.
By Peter Grazul