The battlefield impact of Badruddin Haqqani’s death last week may not be felt until next year. We’re told that Badruddin, thought to be one of the top operational commanders of the Haqqani network, had approved another two months of missions that are already in the works. But because the fighting season will end at about the same time as they do, the effect of his death won’t be clear until next spring, when fighting resumes. “You have a potential loss of a key leader, but you’re about 60 days out of closing the fighting season, so that potentially masks the impact because of the timeframe,” a senior ISAF official told FP. Still, the official said, the coalition expects to see “reduced capacity” from the Haqqani network.
Revenues keep Haqqani alive. The network is a Pashtun group that is considered responsible for numerous attacks in Afghanistan but that operates with relative impunity from within tribal areas across the border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan. It is one of the best-organized groups because of various and well-established streams of revenue, including from the sale of both licit and illicit commodities. “A critical capability of the Haqqani network is its financial capacity, which distinguishes them from other insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan,” wrote the Institute for the Study of War’s Jeff Dressler, who this week released a research paper on the group. “Because of its diversified and robust revenue streams, the Haqqani Network brings to bear a powerful and growing fighting force in Afghanistan.”
Skill sets dwindling. Although Badruddin’s death has been confirmed by multiple sources, ISAF officials say they have no way to confirm it independently. But there’s little question his passing will have an effect, sooner or later, on a group whose leadership is reasonably centralized. Few people could easily replace Badruddin’s unique capabilities, the ISAF official said. (Badruddin ran the network with his brothers Sirajuddin and Nasiruddin and other family members, and the group was founded by their father, Jalaluddin Haqqani.) “The over-the-border influences don’t change,” the ISAF official said. “But what you have is less capable leadership. The age and experience level is slowly making its way down, and you’re getting lower and less experienced fighters.”