In the latest such attack in June, gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel outside of Kabul and opened fire on Afghans having dinner, killing 18 people. The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan quickly attributed the attack to the Haqqani network, which has long operated as a sort of arm of the Taliban in the eastern part of the country.
Still, there are likely people waiting in the wings to replace Badruddin, said former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, now an opposition leader.
"They are going to find another person to replace him. What I know is that his elder brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is playing a larger role in the Haqqani network," Saleh said in an interview on Afghanistan's Tolo television. He said until the group's ability to operate across Afghanistan and Pakistan is limited, "killing their commanders or leaders will have its effect, but not that large of an effect."
The U.S. State Department has designated Badruddin, along with his father and brothers — Nasiruddin and Sirajuddin — as terrorists. The State Department said in May 2011 that Badruddin sits on the Miram Shah Shura, a group that controls all Haqqani network activities and coordinates attacks in southeastern Afghanistan.
Badruddin is also believed to have been responsible for the 2008 kidnapping of New York Times reporter David Rohde, the department said.
After their father effectively retired in 2005, Badruddin and his brother Sirajuddin expanded the network into kidnapping and extortion, both highly profitable for the organization, according to a recent report by the West Point, N.Y.-based Combating Terrorism Center. Afghan intelligence authorities have released intercepts of Badruddin orchestrating an attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011, the CTC said.
The U.S. has long viewed the Haqqani network as one of the biggest threats to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as the country's long term stability. The group has shown little interest in negotiating with the Washington, and has pulled off some of the highest-profile and most complex attacks in Afghanistan, although not necessarily the most deadly.
Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana in Islamabad and Anwarullah Khan in Khar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
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