Kabul, Sep 8 (EFE).- The collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government and the subsequent return of the Taliban have raised fears about the regrouping of the al-Qaeda terror group that carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
The US justified the Afghan invasion after the Taliban regime, which provided al-Qaeda leadership havens, refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and let the country become a cradle for global terrorism.
Now the Taliban is back; there are growing concerns that the region is back to square one after 20 years of the American war on terror.
The fear comes even as the Taliban have said they were committed to not allow the use of Afghan soil for subversive activities against any country.
“We do not have any promises to keep with anyone on carrying out joint operation against any group (because) we have the capability to secure our country,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told EFE.
A June 2020 report by the United Nations had warned that al-Qaeda remains “covertly active” with 400-600 fighters in at least 12 of the 34 Afghan provinces.
Experts doubt whether the Taliban would restrain al-Qaeda and limit its abilities to carry out terror attacks since the two groups remain closely aligned and share an extremist ideology.
“The Taliban will not be able to cut their ties and prevent activities of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan,” a former Afghan government officer told EFE in Kabul, requesting anonymity.
He noted that the al-Qaeda leaders were the first to congratulate the Taliban after the Islamists seized power in Kabul on Aug.15.
“Al-Qaeda will continue to remain active in Afghanistan in one or the other way,” he said.
The ex-government officer said al-Qaeda had helped the Taliban financially and trained its fighters in making explosive devices.
He said scores of al-Qaeda members, including Chechens, Arabs, and Pakistanis, even fought and died alongside Taliban fighters in the last 20 years of fighting foreign troops.
Senior politician Fazal Hadi Wazin, who contested the presidential election last year as a running mate of former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, thinks Afghanistan faces a dire situation.
“If the Taliban is unable to prevent al-Qaeda’s use of Afghan soil against other countries, it will put (the country) in a very difficult situation and will be a throwback to the past.”
However, he believes that since the situation is different from what it was like 20 years ago, the Taliban will keep its promise to disallow al-Qaeda to use the “Afghan territory against any other country.”
The Taliban had promised to cut its ties with terrorist groups as a security guarantee in return for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in a pact with the US in February last year.
Jamal Beheshti, deputy head of the parliamentary panel on foreign affairs, warned that failure to keep its promise would harm the Taliban’s ties with the international community.
Beheshti said he believed that the Taliban had no reason not to backtrack on its commitment to counter-terror measures.
“The Taliban will act on their own” if they need to act against any terrorist group in Afghanistan, the parliamentarian told EFE. EFE