World Bulletin / News Desk
The United States is preparing to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a "terrorist" group as early as Friday, the New York Times said on its website.
US targets the Haqqanis, a Pashtun tribe with strongholds in southeastern Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, accused of staging high-profile assaults against foreign troops in occupied Afghanistan.
Designation by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization would bring sanctions such as criminal penalties for anyone providing material support to the group and seizure of any assets in the United States.
The Obama administration is facing a congressional deadline this weekend to determine whether the network met the criteria for such designation.
The New York Times said senior officials who argued against blacklisting the group were concerned it could further damage relations with Pakistan and possibly jeopardize the fate of U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who is being held by the fighters.
The newspaper said four administration officials late Thursday said the government was going ahead with the designation.
Asked for comment on the New York Times story, a senior State Department official said: "As she noted earlier this week, the Secretary expects to send her report on the Haqqani network to Congress today, September 7, and announce her decision regarding designation of the Haqqani network."
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