BENGALURU: The 12th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team on key developments in Afghanistan between May 2020 and April 2021, submitted recently to the United Nations Security Council Committee, had warned that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties.
“Senior leadership of Al-Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with Taliban. A number of significant Al-Qaeda figures were killed in Afghanistan during the reporting period. Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network, and Al-Qaeda remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage,” the report stated.
In the backdrop of the UN expose on Taliban and their thriving terrorist network in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden’s statement early this week that the “only vital national interest (of America) in Afghanistan remains what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland,” sounds rather curious.
What is even more damaging is the finding that the Taliban “regularly consulted with Al-Qaeda during negotiations with the US and offered guarantees that it would honour their historical ties. Al-Qaeda has reacted positively to the agreement, with statements from its acolytes celebrating it as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus, for global militancy,” the report stated.
The June, ’21 assessment report categorially stated it is “impossible to assess with confidence that Taliban will live up to its commitment to suppress any future international threat emanating from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Al-Qaeda and like-minded militants continue to celebrate developments in Afghanistan as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global radicalism.”
There are multiple foreign terrorist groups operating out of Afghanistan such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jamaat Ansarullah Tajikistan (JAT), Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) and the Salafist Group. “Out of these, Pakistani nationals fighting with terrorist groups in Afghanistan may be as high as 6,000 to 6,500,” the report said.
It added that Taliban’s “ongoing profiting from narcotics is not addressed in the (peace) agreement, but will be a challenge under any future governance arrangements in Afghanistan. The report also highlighted the factionalism within Taliban. “While the Taliban remain internally disciplined to be a formidable fighting force, there are divisions, which make compromise with its adversaries difficult, and its messaging remains hardline.”