Saudi Arabia maintained high-level contacts with one of the US’ most dangerous opponents in Afghanistan throughout the American-led war in the country, Saeed Shah reports for The Wall Street Journal citing leaked Saudi diplomatic cables.
The diplomatic cables, which have been published by WikiLeaks but have not been independently verified, purportedly show high-level contact between Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Pakistan and Nasiruddin Haqqani, the chief fundraiser for the Haqqani Network jihadist, group in 2012.
“A document dated Feb. 15, 2012, and signed by the then-Saudi envoy to Islamabad, Amb. Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al Ghadeer, says the diplomat met with Nasiruddin Haqqani, who asked the ambassador to convey to the Saudi king his father’s wish to be treated in a Saudi hospital,” the WSJ notes. “The cable also mentions Jalaluddin Haqqani’s Saudi passport.”
An official from Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister agreed that Haqqani should receive care in a Saudi hospital, although it is unclear if the hospital visit ever occurred.
Both Jalaluddin and Nasiruddin Haqqani were on a UN terror watch list at the time of the alleged communication with the Saudi diplomat. The list is intended to freeze all funding for designated individuals as well as stop any international travel, according to the WSJ.
The Haqqani Network has been one of the most brutal and effective fighting forces in Afghanistan. The group is closely affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Taliban, although it maintains its own independent control structure.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan originally funded the network in the 1980s, when it was one of the numerous anti-Soviet forces combating the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network continues to operate mainly out of Pakistan’s lawless border region with Afghanistan and was responsible for some of the most sophisticated attacks against NATO forces in the country.
The Haqqani Network is still a danger in the country. On June 22, the Haqqani Network carried out a suicide car bombing on Afghanistan’s parliament while it was in session. The attack killed two and injured more than 30 others.
Wikileaks released the first cache of Saudi diplomatic cables on June 19, although the organisation claims that it will publish additional leaked documents in the near future. Although a handful of documents have been shown to be authentic, the veracity of the entire cache has yet to be determined. Some Middle East analysts believe that Wikileaks may have obtained the documents as the result of an Iranian hack.
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