Conflicts & War

Taliban reject US treasury report over Al Qaeda links

Kabul, Jan 27 (efe-epa).- The Taliban on Wednesday rejected a report by the United States Treasury Department claiming that Al Qaeda was gaining strength in Afghanistan with the collaboration and protection of the Taliban.

“We strongly reject this report. The report has been compiled by partisan and warmongering circles based on false information,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Mujahid said that after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the subsequent uprisings in the Arab world, Al Qaeda members had returned to their countries of origin.

“Currently, there are no Al Qaeda operatives present in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson claimed.

The insurgents were reacting to a report of the US Treasury circulated on Tuesday, which claimed that from 2020 Al Qaeda had begun “gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under the Taliban’s protection.”

Al Qaeda “capitalizes on its relationship with the Taliban through its network of mentors and advisers who are embedded with the Taliban, providing advice, guidance, and financial support,” according to the report.

In the historic Doha accord- signed between the US and the Taliban on Feb. 29, 2020 – the rebels had agreed to not allow the Afghan soil to be used for carrying out terror attacks on other nations, as well as cutting their links with terror groups, particularly Al Qaeda.

In exchange, Washington had promised to withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan by May 2021.

“The Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) once again declares that it shall remain committed to all clauses of the Doha agreement, not allow anyone to pose a threat to the security of the US and its allies from the soil of Afghanistan or build bases here,” Mujahid said in his statement.

The allegations against the rebels come soon after the administration of the newly-elected US President Joe Biden said that Washington would review the Doha deal, signed under the government of his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the review will seek to “assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

The Afghan government has recently accused the Taliban of maintaining ties with Al Qaeda, after Afghan security forces killed various members of the terror group in 2020.

In October, Afghan security forces killed Abu Mohsin al-Masri, the Al Qaeda number two for the Indian subcontinent.

Al-Masri was a close associate of the principal Al Qaeda leaders and was one of the few remaining commanders who had been implicated in the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks in the US, in which close to 3,000 people were killed.

“The killing of this senior member of al-Qaeda terrorist group by our brave forces proved that Taliban’s relations with terrorism and terrorist groups remained intact,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in October. EFE-EPA

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