Two men connected to the Haqqani Network, a key faction of the Afghan Taliban that operates in the troubled tribal belt along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, were designated as terrorists Thursday by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Bakht Gul, a key communications official for the terrorist group, was designated for his work with the group's leaders, including Badruddin Haqqani, in supervising the movement of Haqqani insurgents, foreign fighters, and weapons.
Badruddin Haqqani was designated by the State Department in May 2011.
Gul operates as a "gatekeeper" for Badruddin, relaying operational orders from Badruddin to fighters in Afghanistan. He also communicates critical information from commanders in Afghanistan to the Haqqani Network leadership, Taliban media officials, and Afghani media outlets. Gul also delivered money to Haqqani Network fighters traveling into Afghanistan in late 2009.
The other individual designated, Abdul Baqi Bari, is a Taliban money launderer and financier. Bari set up businesses to channel money in support of Taliban and al-Qaida activity in Afghanistan. At one time, Bari carried out a $400,000 hawala transfer for Mullah Omar, the Taliban's one-eyed spiritual leader.
Omar is wanted under the U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program since October 2001, for harboring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida terrorists in the years preceding the 9/11 attacks.
The Taliban transferred $2.8 million from an account in Europe to Bari for fear its assets would be frozen by the incoming Afghan government subsequent to its fall from power. Bari kept the money in accounts outside of Afghanistan to keep it safe from the new Afghan government. The Taliban was able to obtain money from Bari when needed. Additionally, Bari helped procure weapons for the Taliban.
"By designating these individuals today, Treasury is taking another step to ensure all those who perpetuate ongoing violence and terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue to be marginalized and cut off from the international financial system, and they will find it increasingly difficult to carry out their objectives," Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in U.S. Department of Treasury announcement.