WASHINGTON - Stepping up pressure on the Obama administration, the US Senate has passed a bill directing the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to determine if the Haqqani network is a terrorist organisation.

The House of Representatives passed a similar measure last week, so the request goes straight to Hillary Clinton.

The Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act requires her to report to Congress on whether the Haqqani network — an Afghan insurgent group based in the Tribal Areas of northwest Pakistan — meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Introduced by Senator Richard Burr, Republican, said the bill made a point not to further harm relations with Pakistan, stating that “nothing in this Act may be construed to infringe upon the sovereignty of Pakistan to combat militant or terrorist groups operating inside its boundaries.” US-Pakistani relations have been under strain since US Special Forces unilaterally conducted a raid killing Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.

AFP adds: The US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden was the ‘easiest’ of three steps that led to the Al-Qaeda chief’s death, the special forces commander who supervised the clandestine mission has said.

Admiral William McRaven praised President Barack Obama for ordering the raid and said the CIA deserved credit for finally tracking bin Laden down to a house in Abbottabad. “Our piece of it, the military piece, of kind of what I look at kind of three components was probably the easiest aspect of the entire raid,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Wednesday.

“The two other pieces of this were the CIA’s role,” said McRaven, who heads up US Special Operations Command, without detailing exactly what the intelligence agency did.

“When the history is finally written and outlined and exposed on how the CIA determined that bin Laden was there, it will be one of the great intelligence operations in the history of intelligence organisations.”  Obama’s order led a team of Navy SEALs to be deployed in helicopters to Abbottabad, a two-hour drive north of Islamabad, where bin Laden was killed in a shootout inside his home.

McRaven refused to answer a question on whether the military’s mission was to kill bin Laden or capture him, but he said the commandos merely did their job and it was Obama, not the special forces, who issued the order to go in.

“This is not a small point. The fact of the matter is it was the president of the United States that ordered the raid,” McRaven said, and replying “absolutely, he does,” when asked whether Obama deserved credit.The bin Laden raid, which was launched from neighbouring Afghanistan without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities on May 1, 2011, was one of 12 US operations that evening, but it “was a little bit more sporty,” McRaven said.