The New York Times reports that the U.S. government is planning to officially designate the Haqqani militant group a terrorist organization, elevating its status in the Afghan war, but making it an easier target for international sanctions and military action. The insurgent group, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, has become one of the biggest threats to American and NATO troops in the region since the fall of the Taliban government (of which Haqqani was once a member.) The group operates along the Afghan-Pakistan border and has been linked to some of the deadliest attacks of the last few years, including one on the U.S. embassy in Kabul last year.
Despite its numerous attacks on the coalition forces, the decision to label the network a "foreign terrorist organization" is a politically tricky one. The Haqqanis have been closely linked to the Pakistan government and some of its intelligence units have been accused of aiding the insurgents. The Haqqani network also hold the only American solider know to be held by militant groups, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and there are fears the decision could put him in further jeopardy. There are also fears that re-engaging the group could hamper peace talks, even at the U.S. prepares to withdraw from the region.
The designation allows financial institutions and other governments to seize assets and block payments to the group, which could hamper its ability to raise funds and plan operations. However, it could also kill recent effort at peace negations with the Haqqani's and the Taliban and strain relations between the U.S. and Pakistan at a critical moment in their relationship. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was recently given a deadline to make the declaration and that expires on Sunday. Those in the military and diplomatic corps who supported the decision have apparently convinced other that the need to take stronger action outweighs the dangers.