Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Tim Griffin
Date: July 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I my consume.

I thank my Senate colleague, Mr. Burr of North Carolina, and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Rogers of Michigan, for their work on this issue.

This bill directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress detailing whether the Haqqani Network meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization according to current Federal law. If the Secretary determines that the Haqqani Network does not meet the criteria, the Secretary shall provide a detailed justification as to which criteria have not been met. The bill also provides a sense of Congress that the Secretary of State should designate the network as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against U.S.-led NATO forces and the Government of Afghanistan. Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son lead the network, which is now based in Pakistan but operates on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

For about 2 years, the Pakistani Government has sought to facilitate a compromise between the Haqqani Network and the Government of Afghanistan. However, the network has close links with al Qaeda and is believed to provide al Qaeda operatives with safe haven in Haqqani-controlled areas. The Pakistani Government is believed to be the only entity with the influence to bring the Haqqani Network to the negotiating table.

The Obama administration has been considering formally designating the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law, but has yet to act. Seven Haqqani leaders have been under U.S. sanctions since 2008; and in 2011, Secretary Clinton designated operational commander Badruddin Haqqani under Executive Order 13224, thereby blocking movement of his assets, but not those of the umbrella Haqqani Network.

Since 2008, several attacks have been linked or attributed to the Haqqani Network. In addition to kidnappings of journalists and bombings of hotels and embassies, the Haqqani Network is blamed for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and nearby NATO bases in Kabul in September 2011. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker blamed the Haqqani Network for the 19-hour Kabul attack which killed four police officers, three coalition soldiers, and four civilians. Two dozen more soldiers and civilians were injured.

The Obama administration insists on negotiating with the Haqqani Network despite unsuccessful attempts in the past. Secretary Clinton has indicated that these negotiations may be necessary again in order to establish sustainable peace in Afghanistan. However, the Haqqani Network has been permitted to evade designation as a foreign terrorist organization. Congress' frustration with the Obama administration's overdue review of the Haqqani Network is clearly evidenced by this legislation.

According to U.S. military commanders, the Haqqani Network is highly resilient and is one of the biggest threats to the U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan Government in the current war in Afghanistan. This straightforward legislation simply directs the Secretary of State to analyze whether the Haqqani Network meets the standards for designation as a foreign terrorist organization under Federal law and report those findings back to Congress. It also expresses the sense of Congress that the Haqqani Network should be designated as a foreign terrorist network. The bill does not, however, require that the President designate the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization. This is a carefully limited bill, and, as I noted earlier, similar legislation was passed by the Senate without opposition.

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan, bicameral legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.