Calls for Afghan Talibans on US terror list

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.

On Tuesday, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., questioned Tuesday why the State Department had not placed the two most potent Taliban groups fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan on its list of terrorist organizations and called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to do so.

Neither of the two Pakistan-based groups — the Quetta Shura Taliban or the affiliated Haqqani network — appears on the department’s list of organizations, which requires only that a foreign group be engaged in terrorist activity that threatens U.S. security.

Listing can trigger a freeze on assets tied to the group and other sanctions. Levin, who spoke at a news conference after a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, indicated that such a listing would allow the United States to increase pressure on the Pakistani military to crack down on the groups.

The listings, however, 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.

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