Top lawmakers demand terrorist tag for Taliban-allied Haqqani network

Two top lawmakers demanded the Obama administration tag a Pakistani-based terror group with ties to the Taliban as an official enemy of the state.

The Haqqani network should be placed on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

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After a recent visit to Afghanistan, both lawmakers said the Taliban was exerting more influence at the same time the U.S. is planning to pull all its forces from the country in 2014.

“I think we'd both say that what we found is that the Taliban is getting stronger," Feinstein said.

Part of that resurgence can be attributed to the increased violence by Haqqani forces.

However, Rogers argued the Taliban's resurgence was tied directly to the White House's insistence on a formal withdrawal deadline for Afghanistan.


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"This is a huge problem. And what we have found is maybe the policies, the announced date of withdrawal, the negotiations with the Taliban, have worked against what our endgame is here,” Rogers said.

Operating along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, the Haqqani network is closely allied with the Afghan arm of the Taliban and is responsible for a number of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in the country.

The terror group claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks against Afghan government targets in Kabul on Wednesday.

The series of strikes came hours after President Obama and Afghan president Hamid Karzai agreed to a postwar pact during a ceremony in Afghanistan's capital city.


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The upcoming U.S. and coalition offensive this spring is rooted at clearing out Haqqani strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, said in March.

However, the addition of the Haqqani network to the list of terror groups may hinder U.S.-led efforts to reintegrate the Taliban into the Karzai government.

The U.S. has already been in "direct discussions" with key Taliban leaders, President Obama said during his speech Wednesday from Afghanistan shortly after signing the postwar deal with Karzai.

But the Haqqani network's ties to the Taliban could throw those talks off track, given the American government's long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorist organizations.