Lawmakers want Haqqani declared a terror group

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers from both parties urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday to designate the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, they argued that the Pakistan-based militant group "continues to launch sensational and indiscriminate attacks against U.S. interests in Afghanistan."

The Haqqani network "poses a continuing threat to innocent men, women and children in the region," said the letter from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Maryland Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, both Democrats, and Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, both Republicans.

The State Department says Clinton has been reviewing whether the amorphous group meets the criteria for a terrorist organization. In the meantime, many of its leaders have been individually listed as terrorists.

"When we designate these individuals, it allows us to freeze any U.S.-based assets and to pursue civil and criminal penalties against U.S. individuals who conduct any transactions with them," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday.

The Haqqani network itself has claimed responsibility for several attacks on Americans, and was blamed for an audacious attack last year on NATO's headquarters and on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. It has ties to both al-Qaida and the Taliban and has emerged as perhaps the biggest threat to stability in Afghanistan.

Nuland didn't dispute the threat posed by the Haqqani militants. She said the department was still reviewing the case to determine if a blanket designation of all the network's members would "increase our ability to get to their money, to get to their ability to operate."

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Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

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