U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has officially deemed as terrorists six jihadists accused of lending support to the Afghan Taliban and its al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, two deadly groups allegedly harbored by Pakistan.
In a press release issued Thursday, the Trump administration announced, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action today to expose and disrupt the financing of the Taliban and Haqqani Network by designating six individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).”
Treasury linked four of the designated jihadists to the Taliban: Abdul Samad Sani, Abdul Qadeer Basir Abdul Baseer, Hafiz Mohammed Popalzai, and Maulawi Inayatullah.
The remaining two, Faqir Muhammad and Gula Khan Hamidi, were sanctioned for being affiliated to the Haqqani Network, which the Pentagon considers the top threat facing U.S. troops in South Asia, notably Afghanistan.
As early as last month, the Pentagon reported that Pakistan continues to serve as a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqanis fighting Americans and their allies in neighboring Afghanistan, despite receiving more than $33 billion in security from America since the Afghan war started in October 2001.
In a statement, Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at Treasury, declared:
We are targeting six individuals related to the Taliban or Haqqani Network who have been involved in attacks on Coalition troops, smuggling of individuals, or financing these terrorist groups. This action supports the President’s South Asia Strategy by disrupting these terrorist organizations and publicly exposing individuals who facilitate their activities. The Pakistani government must work with us to deny the Taliban and the Haqqani Network sanctuary and to aggressively target their terrorist fundraising.
President Trump has suspended up to $1.9 billion in security aid to Islamabad for refusing to take decisive action against the terrorist groups.
In response, Pakistan has reportedly rescinded its alliance with the United States, refusing to do more to fight terrorists.
The United States has acknowledged that Pakistan has made a tremendous sacrifice in blood and treasure fighting terrorism.
Various analysts, including Javid Ahmad, an Afghanistan analyst at the Atlantic Council think tank, believe Pakistan holds the key to bringing the Taliban to the peace talks table.
Asked whether the country plans to combat the terrorist groups to receive the money back, Pakistani Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told Breitbart News the plan is simply to push the jihadists back into Afghanistan, where they can join the political process but also continue killing and maiming American troops.
The ambassador declared:
We think that they [the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network] should join the political mainstream there, and we will continue to move them to that path. Regardless of whether the U.S. has decided on [releasing] aid or not … this is a step that we are taking in our own interest and in the interest of peace in the region.
The Trump administration’s Afghan war strategy is “determined” to convince the Taliban to engage in peace negotiations because it cannot win on the battlefield.
Under Trump, the U.S. military has launched a record number of airstrikes against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and other groups.
However, echoing the U.S. military, Ahmad from the Atlantic Council, noted that Russian and Iranian military aid to the Taliban is granting the jihadist group the option to delay or move ahead with any peace negotiations.
The support the Taliban is receiving could ultimately allow the group to gain more influence under a potential power-sharing arrangement with Kabul.
U.S. officials linked some of the jihadists designated as Taliban and Haqqani Network terrorists on Thursday to Iran fundraisers and Iranian smugglers who specialize in smuggling Afghans into Europe.