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Taliban Taps Terrorist Wanted by FBI for New Government

Sirajuddin Haqqani has $5 million bounty for killing a U.S. citizen in 2008

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addresses a press conference in Kabul on September 7, 2021. / Getty Images
• September 7, 2021 1:15 pm

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A Taliban spokesman on Tuesday announced the appointment of a terrorist on the FBI's most-wanted list to a cabinet-level position in its new government.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is a senior leader in the al Qaeda-aligned Haqqani network of terror groups, will serve in the Taliban’s government as minister of the interior. He is wanted by federal authorities for his involvement in a 2008 bombing in Kabul that killed Thor Hesla, a U.S. citizen. The State Department is offering up to $5 million for information leading to Haqqani's arrest.

Haqqani authored an op-ed in the New York Times in February 2020, which expressed the demands of the Taliban ahead of talks with U.S. officials in Qatar.

The Taliban leader said his organization would work to protect human rights for all Afghans and work toward "mutual respect" with foreign powers. The claims run counter to reports of atrocities the Taliban have committed against Afghans, many of whom assisted the United States during its 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Haqqani's op-ed ran four months before a now-infamous New York Times editorial by Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) that argued federal forces should be deployed to quell violence and restore order in America's cities during the summer's riots. Whereas some employees said Cotton's views put black journalists at the newspaper "in danger," no Times employees said publishing a known terrorist's words in their opinion pages put any subgroup of U.S. citizens at risk.

United Nations-sanctioned terrorist Mohammad Hasan Akhund will lead the newly installed Taliban government. A 2020 report from the United Nations Security Council said the Taliban’s senior council of 20 members—including Akhund—maintained close ties with al Qaeda during negotiations with the West.