Afghanistan's intelligence agency said today its operatives have confirmed that the son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani militant network was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, even as the Taliban vowed that he was alive and well. A spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security said Badruddin Haqqani was killed last week, an account similar to one provided yesterday by a senior Taliban leader who said Haqqani was killed in a drone strike. It also hews closely to a version provided by Pakistani officials who said they were 90% sure the militant commander was killed Tuesday in a missile attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.
Haqqani's death would mark a major blow to the organization founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, which is viewed by the US as a powerful enemy in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who are closely allied with the Haqqani network, have rejected all reports of Haqqani's death. Badruddin is considered a vital part of the Haqqani structure and is believed to have played an active role in kidnappings, extortion, and high-profile operations in Afghanistan. But, "They are going to find another person to replace him. His elder brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is playing a larger role in the the Haqqani network," said former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh. He said until the group's ability to operate across Afghanistan and Pakistan is limited, "killing their commanders or leaders will have its effect, but not that large of an effect."