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The most deadly US foe in Afghanistan

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"The Haqqani network has proven itself to be the most capable [of the insurgent groups], able to conduct spectacular attacks inside Afghanistan," says Matthew DuPee, researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

The network, which is independent of (but allied with) the Taliban, showed its mettle again on May 12, when nearly a dozen fighters stormed government buildings in Afghanistan's southeastern city of Khost. The coordinated attack featured multiple suicide bombers and was one of the most brazen to take place in the city in years.

The Haqqani network is considered the most sophisticated of Afghanistan's insurgent groups. The group is alleged to be behind many high-profile assaults, including a raid on a luxury hotel in Kabul in January 2008 and a massive car bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that left 41 people dead in July 2008.

The group is active in Afghanistan's southeastern provinces – Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar, and Ghazni. In parts of Paktika, Khost, and Paktia, they have established parallel governments and control the countryside of many districts. "In Khost, government officials need letters from Haqqani just to move about on the roads in the districts," says Hanif Shah Husseini, a parliamentarian from Khost.

The leadership, according to US and Afghan sources, is based near Miramshah, North Waziristan, in the Pakistani tribal areas. Pakistani authorities and leading Haqqani figures deny this, although former Haqqani fighters say this is indeed the case.

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