Are the Taliban and the Haqqani Network ‘Separate Entities’?

No.

On August 27, during a State Department briefing on Afghanistan, State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked if the State Department’s security “coordination” on security with the Taliban “extends to members of the Haqqani Network.” In response, Price said “no,” claiming that the “Taliban and the Haqqani network are separate entities.” 

This is a false claim. 

According to the National Defense Authorization Act of this year, Congress defines Taliban as follows: “The term ‘the Taliban’’— refers to the organization that refers to itself as the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’, that was founded by Mohammed Omar, and that is currently led by Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada; and includes subordinate organizations, such as the Haqqani Network, and any successor organization.”

Furthermore, during a CNN interview last week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, when asked if the “U.S. is coordinating with the Haqqani Network,” said: “We’re engaging through military channels with the Taliban. The Taliban, obviously, to a considerable extent are integrated with the Haqqani Network.”

It’s also worth noting that on February 20, 2020, Sirajuddin Haqqani published an op-ed in the New York Times headlined: “What We, the Taliban, Want.” Haqqani is also described by the Times as “deputy leader of the Taliban.” The named authors of op-eds typically sign off on their bionotes before publication.

The National Counterterrorism Center describes Sirajuddin Haqqani as leading “the day-to-day activities” of the Haqqani Network and notes that in August 2015 Sirajuddin Haqqani “was named as a deputy to newly appointed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansur—cementing the alliance between the Haqqanis and the Taliban.”

What’s more, in 2017, the Long War Journal reported on the links between the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. The Taliban defended the Haqqani Network after the Afghan government alleged that they might be behind a bombing in Kabul: “The Taliban was quick to defend the Haqqani Network after the Afghan government alleged that its men were responsible. In so doing, the Taliban again affirmed that the Haqqanis are an integral part of its organization — not an independent faction.” 

In a statement to The Dispatch Fact Check, a State Department spokesperson said: “The Haqqani Network and Taliban are separate entities, but they are affiliated.The State Department has long noted the affiliation between the Haqqani Network and the Taliban. As we have said, any information sharing with the Taliban has been focused on very specific tactical threats around the airport and resolving specific problems around access to the airport. We have been clear about that level of coordination.”

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