By Julian Pecquet - 07/17/12 11:29 PM EDT
The Obama administration is under increased pressure to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as terrorists after the House approved by voice vote a resolution urging the State Department to do so.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee introduced similar legislation earlier this month. Designating the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, or FTO, would enable the United States to freeze the network’s assets, prevent its affiliates from coming here and prosecute people who aid or assist the group for the crime of providing material support to terrorism.
“The Haqqani Network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and is the single largest threat for IED's our soldiers face in that country,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who had an amendment to the bill from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), said in a statement. “They actively plot and kill U.S. and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path. To better protect the lives of US soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated.”
The State Department announced in November that it was engaged in the “final formal review” on whether to designate the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and attacks on NATO troops have continued since then. Some government officials, however, worry that labeling the organization that way could hinder talks with the Taliban, which is closely affiliated with the Haqqani Network.