By: The Daily Beast
In the last 17 months since the U.S. government financially blacklisted the Haqqani Network, one of the deadliest insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not a single dollar associated with the group has been blocked or frozen, according to U.S. officials and one of the Congressman who oversees the Treasury Department’s financial war on terrorism.
But it’s not just the Haqqanis—an ally today in the Taliban’s fight against U.S. troops and the Afghan government—who seem to have been spared from America’s economic attacks. According to a Treasury Department letter written in late November, not a single dollar been seized from the Pakistani Taliban, either, at least for 2012.
The reason why, according to a leading Congressman, is that enforcing such sanctions might upset delicate negotiations between America, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and other insurgent groups. “The Haqqani network is associated with the Taliban. My opinion is that this is appeasing the Taliban. Because if we go after the Haqqani network’s money, then the Taliban will walk away from these talks,” Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the fight against terrorism, told The Daily Beast.
While the Obama administration has continued to designate as terrorists individual members of the Haqqani Network—including three such men this week—the investigations and law enforcement actions that typically follow such designations have not resulted in any frozen assets.
“There has been not a dime of money frozen or seized from the Haqqani network,” said Poe. “Finances are what lets these groups continue to commit terrorism.”
While the Haqqani Network is hardly a household name here, the group based on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border is one of America’s most potent foes on the battlefield. In September 2011, Adm. Mike Mullen, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Haqqani network was supported by Pakistan’s military intelligence service and was responsible for a deadly car bomb attack on a NATO outpost in Afghanistan. The network has also been tied to bombings against the U.S. and Indian embassies in Kabul.
Nonetheless, for years both the Bush and the Obama administration resisted actually designating the network as a foreign terrorist organization, and subjecting it to the myriad sanctions and financial blacklisting that goes along with it. Pakistani officials would often quietly threaten to withhold cooperation if the United States designated the network, according to former senior Pakistani and U.S. officials. At the same time, the State Department in the Obama years has worried that such a designation might scuttle their efforts to bring the Taliban into negotiations with the Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai.
That all changed in September 2012, when the State Department signed offon the first designation of the Haqqani Network as an entity. Until then, the U.S. government had sanctioned a handful of the group’s members as individuals. Since the September 2012 designation, the U.S. government has blacklisted 14 persons total that are affiliated with the Haqqani Network in executive actions, but has still yet to freeze or block any of the group’s assets.
“The designation which we fight for all the time is a hollow designation because there is no backup,” Poe told The Daily Beast.
In his role as the chairman of the House Forei