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Rediff.com  » News » US House of Representatives okays FTO tag for Haqqani Network

US House of Representatives okays FTO tag for Haqqani Network

July 18, 2012 09:56 IST
Ramping up the pressure on the Obama administration to designate the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organisation, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a bill through voice vote.

The bill, which was proposed by Senator Richard Burr and was brought to the house floor under suspension of the rules on Tuesday, requires the state department to decide within a month whether the Haqqani Network meets the criteria for the designation.

In the absence of the legislation the Pakistan-based terror outfit can raise funds in America.

An official FTO designation is a critical step allowing the United States to more aggressively undermine the network's support.

The Haqqani Network is accused of being responsible for a number of terror attacks against the US interests in Afghanistan.

"The Haqqani Network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and is the single largest threat for IEDs our soldiers face in that country. They actively plot and kill US and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path," said Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"To better protect the lives of US soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated," Rogers said.

On May 11, Rogers, ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger and their Senate counterparts, chairman Dianne Feinstein and vice chairman Saxby Chambliss, called on the Obama administration to designate the Haqqani Network as an FTO.

On June 27, chairman Rogers, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon introduced legislation demanding that the Haqqani Network be designated as an FTO.

Language from the Rogers/Ros-Lehtinen/McKeon bill was included in the bill that passed the House.

Specifically, an FTO designation permits the United States to freeze the network's assets, keep those affiliated with the group from coming to the US, and prosecute those individuals aiding or assisting the Network with the crime of providing material support to terrorism.

The bill which mandates a report from the state department was previously passed by the Senate on December 17.

The measure now heads to the White House.
Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC