Jalaluddin Haqqani, believed to be in his 50s, created his network while serving as a leader in the decade-long insurgency against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which began in 1979. He developed extensive foreign contacts -- including with the Pakistani intelligence and the CIA -- getting money, weapons and supplies from Pakistani intelligence, which in turn received billions of dollars from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

He served as Afghanistan's justice minister after the Soviets left, and minister of tribal and border affairs after Taliban fundamentalists seized power in 1996. He joined the Taliban insurgency when the United States helped overthrow the regime after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He effectively retired in 2005, passing responsibility for day-to-day operations to his son Sirajuddin, who is accused of expanding the network's kidnapping and extortion operations. Reports accuse the Haqqanis of running a sophisticated and diverse financial network -- including lucrative drug trafficking and smuggling activity as well as construction and real estate interests -- that is comparable to a mafia group, said the Center for Combating Terrorism.

Last month, an unmanned U.S. drone strike killed one of Haqqani's sons, Badruddin, considered the group's No. 3. Analysts believe the Haqqanis have a force of 2,000 to 5,000 fighters and say the network maintains close relationships with Al-Qaida.