WASHINGTON – The new military commander in Afghanistan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee are urging the State Department to add to its terrorist list some Afghan insurgent commanders who operate from hiding places in neighboring Pakistan.
Commander of NATO forces Gen. David Petraeus wants some leaders of the Haqqani network added to the list, a senior U.S. Defense official in Washington said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to describe internal administration discussions.
On Tuesday, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., urged the State Department to take the same action. Levin is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both asked for sanctions against the al-Qaida-linked group, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. The Haqqani network launches attacks against U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from the Waziristan tribal region in Pakistan.
Formally designating leaders of the group as terrorists could anger Pakistani officials, because it would require that government to put pressure on any country harboring those leaders.
The listings also could hamper efforts by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconcile with insurgents in his effort to negotiate an end to the war.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the department has studied the question, but not reached a decision.
"The Haqqani network has been known to us for some time, this is not something that snuck up on us," he said Wednesday. "This is an ongoing process ... Developments change over time and it is something that we are actively looking at."
A group of lawmakers also has been urging the State Department to designate the Pakistani Taliban organization Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, as a foreign terrorist organization.
Officials said that review also is under way and was speeded up after the May 1 failed Times Square bombing. The man who has pleaded guilty in the New York incident, Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad, said he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the U.S. to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.