A senior leader of the Haqqani network has been captured in Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Saturday in a statement.
ISAF said Afghan and coalition forces detained Haji Mali Khan during a security operation in Jani Khel district, Paktiya province, on Tuesday.
Khan is described as the network's senior commander in Afghanistan, and as the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani, two sons of the network's leader, Jalaludin Haqqani.
[Khan] was one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan.
He reportedly worked directly under Siraj Haqqani, and managed bases and had oversight of operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mali Khan moved forces from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity.
Several other insurgents were detained in the operation, including Khan's deputy and bodyguard.
The Associated Press reports that Kahn is the most significant Haqqani leader ever captured in Afghanistan, "and could dent the group's ability to operate along the porous border with Pakistan's lawless tribal areas."
According to the AP, a Taliban spokesperson denied that Khan had been captured shortly after NATO's announcement, but did not provide proof that he was free.
Last Sunday, The New York Times published a front page story on the Haqqani network, reporting that "American intelligence and military officials call the crime clan known as the Haqqani network — led by a wizened militant named Jalaluddin Haqqani who has allied himself over the years with the C.I.A., Saudi Arabia’s spy service and Osama bin Laden — the most deadly insurgent group in Afghanistan."