The founder of the Taliban-linked Haqqani militant network, who was a friend of Osama bin Laden, has died after years of health problems.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was paralysed for the last 10 years, was once hailed as a freedom fighter by ex-US president Ronald Reagan in the mujahideen’s battle against the Soviets during the 1980s.
But in 2012, the US declared the Afghan-based Haqqani network a terrorist organisation.
The group has been behind some of the bloodiest attacks against US and Nato troops and civilians in Afghanistan.
Haqqani, who was reportedly aged in his early 70s, had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years and had passed control of the network to his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also deputy head of the Taliban.
The Taliban, which announced the elder militant died on Monday, called him a religious scholar and exemplary warrior.
His death is not expected to affect the network’s military strength and strategy.
He had not been heard from for several years and reports of his death were widespread in 2015.
Haqqani was a close friend of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who often took refuge in his camps outside Khost.
The Haqqani network, which has been linked to audacious attacks in Afghanistan, is seen as the most formidable of the Taliban’s fighting forces.
Jalaluddin Haqqani joined the Taliban when they took control of the capital Kabul in September 1996, expelling rival mujahideen groups.
Since then, Haqqani insurgents have been among the fiercest militants fighting US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.
Haqqani was among the Afghan mujahideen which the US supported with money and weapons in the 1980s to fight the Soviet army that was propping up the pro-Moscow government.
After 10 years, Moscow negotiated an exit from Afghanistan in a deal that eventually led to the collapse of Kabul’s communist government and a takeover by the mujahideen.
Haqqani was praised by the late US congressman Charlie Wilson as “goodness personified”.