US Targets Suicide Operations Chief of 'Sopranos of Afghanistan'
The Obama administration announced Monday that it has placed sanctions on Qari Zakir, the chief of suicide operations for Pakistan's Haqqani Network.
In addition to the U.S. designation, the United Nations placed Zakir and the Haqqani Network itself on its blacklist, requiring member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on both him and the group.
“Today’s U.N. actions demonstrate international resolve in eliminating the Haqqani Network’s ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan,” the State Department said in a statement.
The State Department designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization in September, after years of deliberation and prodding from Congress.
Dubbed “the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war” by The New York Times, the Haqqani Netwrok is a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking.
Zakir is the first individual member of the group to be singled out for sanctions by the Treasury Department, which freezes any U.S. assets in his name and deems is a crime for American citizens to offer him assistance of any kind.
“This designation today follows on the broader U.S. designation of the Haqqani Network not too long ago. It is a way of ensuring that U.S. banks know that this individual is completely covered by the broader designation, and giving them what they need to identify him as a full member of the Haqqani Network,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday. “This makes absolutely clear to American entities that they shouldn't deal with him in any way, shape or form.”
Zakir allegedly runs the Haqqani network's terrorist training program in Afghanistan. He has been linked to several attacks against U.S. and NATO targets in the country, including an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last September.