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The Dawood-Haqqani-ISI nexus in Pakistan

October 02, 2012 09:25 IST

Gretchen Peters, of the United States Military Academy at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, who has since 2005, spent considerable time studying the link between organised crime and insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has told US Congress of the nexus between the criminal enterprise Dawood Ibrahim company, the Haqqani Network and the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Peters, whose extensive research on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan has also included the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba -- responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks -- testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism on 'Combating the Haqqani Terrorist Network,' said, "It is well known that the Haqqanis are the most ruthless and violent faction of the Taliban and also that they have the capacity to launch spectacular attacks."

"They have hosted, facilitated and networked with all sorts of bad actors around the region," she said, "and also criminal networks like the Dawood Ibrahim company."

Peters said in her research, which afforded her stacks of material gathered by US troops and intelligence about the Haqqani Network from its captured hide-outs, she was amazed by 'the extent of this criminal business network'.

She said, "They do work for the Pakistan government -- Pakistan's ISI, and they will assassinate people around Afghanistan….they operate very much like a sophisticated transnational Mafia network."

Peters however noted that "I believe that their relationship with the ISI, although close --and this is a relationship that has lasted since the 1970s, even prior to the Soviet arrival in Afghanistan -- today, are much more fraught than many outsiders imagine."

She admitted that "The ISI is certainly able to get the Haqqanis to engage in certain activities for them," but reiterated that "It would be a stretch to say that they control them or that they trust each other."

But Peters made clear, in talking of the nexus between the Haqqani Network, the ISI and the criminal enterprises like the Dawood Ibrahim company that "one of the things that was very striking when we laid out all of these receipts and documents and cable records and property records that they had, was the extent to which the Haqqanis are really a Pakistani organisation."

"Their ID cards, their residences, their hospital bills, everything they purchased -- the command and the control of the organisation is in Pakistan, and not in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas -- not in the tribal areas -- but deep inside Pakistan."

Peters said, "Records extended down into Karachi, into Lahore, Rawalpindi," and noted that "It is important to recognise the extent to which this network is integrated through the region."

She said the designation by the Obama administration of the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation 'is to me like an arrest warrant -- it can be completely meaningless, if there is not action to follow it up'.

Thus, Peters called on the Congress and "The Committee members here to encourage the administration to follow up by creating a task force," to dismantle the Haqqanis, which she said would entail "'figuring out where the vulnerable nodes are, what authorities we have to attack it'.

"We can do this," she declared, but noted, "It's a question of the political will to follow it up and properly resource the investigators and the experts we have here in Washington and in places like Tampa, who can do this."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC