Country Report on Terrorism 2020 - Chapter 5 - Haqqani Network (HQN)

Haqqani Network


Description:  Designated as an FTO on September 19, 2012, the Haqqani Network (HQN) was formed in the late 1980s, around the time of the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  HQN’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani established a relationship with Usama bin Laden in the mid1980s and joined the Taliban in 1995.  After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani retreated to Pakistan where, under the leadership of his son Sirajuddin, HQN continued to direct and conduct terrorist activity in Afghanistan.  In 2015, Sirajuddin Haqqani was appointed Deputy Leader of the Taliban.

Activities:  HQN has planned and carried out numerous significant kidnappings and attacks against U.S. and Defeat-ISIS Coalition forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government, and civilian targets.  In 2011, HQN wounded 77 U.S. soldiers in a truck bombing in Maidan Wardak province and conducted a 19-hour attack on Embassy Kabul and International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, killing 16 Afghans.  In 2012 an HQN suicide bomb attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno killed 2 U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

In 2016, HQN was blamed for an attack in Kabul against a government security agency tasked with providing protection to senior government officials, killing 64 people and injuring more than 300.  Afghan officials also blamed HQN for a 2016 double-suicide attack outside of Kabul against Afghan police cadets and first responders; 30 people were killed.

In 2017, Afghan officials blamed HQN for a truck bomb exploded in Kabul, killing more than 150 people.  Later that year, an American woman and her family were recovered after five years of HQN captivity.

HQN was believed to be responsible for a 2018 ambulance bombing in Kabul that killed more than 100 people.  Afghan officials blamed HQN for a 2018 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that killed 22 persons, including Americans.  In 2019, HQN released two hostages, including a U.S. citizen, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint in 2016.

In May, the Afghan government identified HQN as responsible for an attack on a military court in Paktika province killing at least five.  In July the Afghan government identified HQN as responsible for killing three civilians in a bombing in Kabul.

Strength:  HQN is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters.

Location/Area of Operation:  Afghanistan and Pakistan

Funding and External Aid:  HQN is funded primarily from taxing local commerce, extortion, smuggling, and other licit and illicit business ventures.  In addition to the funding it receives as part of the broader Afghan Taliban, the group receives some funds from donors in Pakistan and the Gulf.