Jalaluddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban fighter and Afghan resistance figurehead who President Ronald Reagan once hailed as a “freedom fighter,” has died of natural causes, Taliban officials announced Tuesday. The founder of the Haqqani Network, a fighting force linked to some of the most audacious attacks in Afghanistan, Haqqani, 71, was sent money and weapons by the CIA to fight Soviet troops and the communists propping up the Afghan government in the 1980s. He turned against the U.S. after the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996. Haqqani ceded day-to-day command of his eponymous network to his son some years ago, as he reportedly fought Parkinson’s disease. His death is not expected to impact the Taliban’s military might or strategy.
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