The founder of the Haqqani Network, one of Afghanistan’s most effective and feared armed groups, has died after a long illness, their affiliates the Afghan Taliban announced on Tuesday.
The Taliban statement said Jalaluddin Haqqani had been ill and bed-ridden for several years.
“If his excellency Haqqani Sahib has departed us physically, his ideology and methodology continue to endure,” it said.
Haqqani, who founded the network in the 1970s, relinquished operational leadership of the group some years ago to his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is now deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban.
Haqqani rose to prominence as a guerrilla leader in the US-backed campaign against Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan but later allied himself with the Taliban, fighting American troops after the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
His group became known for complex, well-organised attacks on both Afghan and US military as well as civilian targets and high-profile kidnappings.
US and Afghan officials have said the group, based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, operated with the support of Pakistani intelligence services. That charge is rejected by Pakistan, which has pointed to the network’s early links to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
“He had been engaged in so many sophisticated attacks and employed innovative techniques in the asymmetric war, creating a headache for the Afghan government,” Mushtaq Rahim, a political analyst based in Kabul, said.
“Within the Taliban ranks he has been seen as a hero. During 1980s he became a big headache for the Russian forces and the Kabul administration,” Rahim told Al Jazeera.
With Sirajuddin Haqqani in operational charge, it was not immediately clear what direct impact Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death would have on the insurgent movement.