June 30th, 2011
11:09 AM ET

Kabul hotel attack: What is the Haqqani network?

This week's deadly suicide attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that is popular with Westerners has been linked to a terrorist group called Haqqani.

Based in Pakistan's tribal region, Haqqani (which the U.S. government has dubbed the Haqqani network) is a militant group closely allied with the Taliban and linked to al Qaeda. For several years, it has reportedly targeted American and international forces across the Afghanistan border and the region. American officials say they consider the network one of the greatest threats in Afghanistan.

Members of Haqqani are bound together by tribal or clan relationships, according to the military blog the Long War Journal, which has a long explanation of the roots of the group and the Haqqani family, which is believed to be at the helm of the group.

Jane's Defense and Security Analysis says that in 2008, Siraj Haqqani was believed to be the leader of the network. At that time, he phoned The News, a Pakistani newspaper, and claimed he had masterminded a suicide bombing in the District Centre of Sabari, in southeast Afghanistan's Khost province, with an IED in March. Two U.S. soldiers in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were killed in the attack, according to U.S. sources, Jane's says. Siraj Haqqani told the paper that a gunman had fired on guards manning the entrance to the base, allowing a suicide bomber to drive his car inside.

Also in 2008, Afghan officials blamed the Haqqani network for a January assault on Kabul's Serena Hotel. In that attack, three gunmen with explosives "bluffed, shot and blasted their way through the hotel's security measures, terrifying Afghanistan's small international community in the process," according to Jane's.

This week, terrorists entered the Hotel Inter-Continental in Kabul by avoiding the main entrance, instead attacking a smaller entrance on another side of the building. The attackers killed two Afghan police officers manning the entrance, according to Falak Merzahi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry. The terrorists then stormed the hotel, and six of them detonated explosives. Three of the attackers were shot and killed on the roof of the hotel, Afghan officials told CNN. Although a NATO helicopter carrying International Security Assistance Force snipers flew to the scene and fired at the attackers, Merzahi said it was Afghan army soldiers who killed the three gunmen on the roof.

The attack at the Inter-Continental has led many to question whether Afghan security forces can take control in the country.

In February 2010, the son of a Haqqani leader was killed in a suspected American drone strike in Pakistan, Pakistani intelligence sources said. Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of the four people killed in a militant compound in the country's tribal region in North Waziristan. A Taliban source also confirmed the death.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • NATO • Security • Taliban • Terrorism
June 29th, 2011
01:04 PM ET

9 militants, 9 others dead after brazen attack on Kabul hotel

The nine militants who targeted a Kabul hotel in a brazen attack killed nine other people, officials said Wednesday.

All the militants, who were prepared to be suicide bombers, died as well, officials said. Six detonated their explosives, said Siddiq Siddiqi, spokesman for the Afghanistan Interior Ministry. The other three were killed on the hotel roof by NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) snipers.

Two police officers are among the dead in the attack at the Hotel Inter-Continental, which began Tuesday night and continued into early Wednesday, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. Officials described the other seven victims as civilians.

One was a Spanish citizen, Spain's news agency EFE reported, citing a family source. Antonio Planas, a 48-year-old pilot, leaves behind a wife and a daughter.

Two Special Operations Forces from New Zealand "received moderate injuries" in responding to the attack, the New Zealand military said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the siege. Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said suicide attackers entered the hotel after killing security guards at the entrance. "One of the suicide attackers told us on the phone that they are in the lobby and chasing guests into their rooms by smashing the doors of the rooms," Mujahid told CNN in an e-mail as the incident was unfolding.

But a Kabul-based official who has direct access to security information told CNN it is believed the attack was instead orchestrated by the Haqqani network, a group of terrorists loyal to the warlord Siraq Haqqani.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • NATO • War • World
Friday's live video events
Georgia's Herman Cain is one of many presidential contenders in a crowded GOP field.
June 24th, 2011
07:52 AM ET

Friday's live video events

The House considers future U.S. action in Libya, while President Obama pitches the U.S. economy in Pennsylvania.  Watch CNN.com Live for the latest on these developing stories.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Casey Anthony • Congress • Courts • Crime • District of Columbia • Economy • Elections • Florida • Jobs • Justice • Libya • Military • NATO • NATO • On CNN.com today • Pennsylvania • Politics • Republican Party • Tim Pawlenty • U.S. • Uncategorized • War • World
May 26th, 2011
05:38 PM ET

7 U.S. soldiers among 8 killed in Afghanistan bomb attack

[Updated at 5:38 p.m.ET] Eight NATO soldiers - including seven Americans - were killed Thursday when two improvised explosive devices blew up in southern Afghanistan, according to the International Security Assistance Force and the Pentagon.

A coalition military official said the attack occurred in the Shorabak District, a remote area in the southeastern part of Kandahar Province, approximately 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) south of the city of Kandahar. It's the same region in which Taliban forces unleashed multiple attacks earlier this month in their so-called spring offensive.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • NATO • World
On the Radar: Good Friday, Earth Day, Texas fires, Mideast protests
Christian pilgrims carry wood crosses on Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa in a Good Friday observance.
April 22nd, 2011
09:41 AM ET

On the Radar: Good Friday, Earth Day, Texas fires, Mideast protests

Good Friday - Non-Orthodox Christians are observing Good Friday, the solemn commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI will lead a "Way of the Cross" ceremony at 3:15 p.m. ET at the Colosseum in Rome, followed by Mass at the Vatican at 5 p.m. ET.

A prosecutor and a public defender in Richmond, Virginia, will put on a mock trial with Jesus facing capital punishment. The audience will be the jury in the sentencing phase and decide his fate.

Meanwhile, a pastor looks at the connections and possible conflicts between Earth Day and Good Friday.

Earth Day - Friday also is Earth Day, an observance meant to draw attention to environmental issues, including energy conservation. Here's a list of 10 simple things you can do to go easy on your world.


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Filed under: Christian • Environment • Libya • Lindsay Lohan • Middle East • NATO • Nevada • On the Radar • Religion • Texas • Vatican
April 7th, 2011
07:07 AM ET

At least 2 killed in airstrike on Libyan opposition convoy

At least two people were killed in an airstrike on an opposition convoy near the Libyan town of al-Brega on Thursday, hospital officials in Ajdabiya told CNN's Ben Wedeman. It is unclear whether the aircraft was from NATO or forces fighting on behalf of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

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Filed under: Libya • NATO
April 6th, 2011
04:24 PM ET

Clinton: Gadhafi must go before NATO airstrikes stop

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must leave power and Libya to stop the NATO military strikes in the country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

"I don't think there is any mystery about what is expected from Mr. Gadhafi at this time," Clinton told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier, Gadhafi urged U.S. President Barack Obama to end the NATO bombing of his war-torn country. Gadhafi made the appeal in a letter, a senior administration official said.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya • Military • NATO • Politics
On the Radar: Libya, politics, Syria, Japan, Wal-Mart, immigration
A Libyan rebel holds the Kingdom of Libya flag and smiles near a burning government tank Saturday in Ajdabiya, Libya.
March 29th, 2011
08:13 AM ET

On the Radar: Libya, politics, Syria, Japan, Wal-Mart, immigration

Libya - Forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi blocked the westward advance of rebels, who have been aided by air power provided by the U.S., NATO and their allies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet in London today with other world leaders to try to strengthen the coalition's efforts.

Meanwhile in Washington, politicians and pundits are parsing President Obama's speech Monday night, in which he explained the reasoning behind and scope of U.S. involvement in the Libyan conflict.

Syria - Thousands of demonstrators marched in Amman in support of President Bashar al-Assad, who has been the target of protests. Confrontations between anti-government protesters and police have been bloody at times; at least 37 people have been killed since last week, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Security forces flooded the restive cities of Daraa and Latakia on Monday, patrolling the streets, protecting government buildings and in at least one case clashing with protesters, according to witnesses..

Japan - Engineers and workers are carrying out a dangerous balancing act as they try to cool the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor with water, but not so much water that it spills over, presenting an additional hazard. Radioactive isotopes from the damaged reactor are being detected in more places in the United States, though the Environmental Protection Agency says they pose no threat to human health. A Senate committee will hold a hearing today to gather information on the accident in Japan.

Wal-Mart - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a huge sex-discrimination lawsuit brought by female workers against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer. The arguments will not be on the merits of the case, but on whether to allow as many as 1.6 million potential plaintiffs to join a single lawsuit. Billions of dollars and many thousands of career paths are at stake.

Immigration - Emily Ruiz, a 4-year-old U.S. citizen, was denied entry to the United States on March 11 when she returned with her grandfather to Dulles International Airport near Washington after an extended stay in Guatemala. The girl's parents are undocumented workers in New York; her grandfather had an old immigration violation, which prompted border agents to send him and the girl back to Guatemala. Emily will try to enter through New York today, a lawyer for the family says.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Guatemala • Hillary Clinton • Immigration • Japan • Libya • Military • NATO • Politics • Protest • Supreme Court • Syria
March 25th, 2011
01:10 PM ET

Canadian to lead NATO mission over Libya

Canadian Lt. Gen. Charlie Bouchard will command the NATO military campaign over Libya, CNN has confirmed.

Filed under: Canada • Libya • Military • NATO
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