Report: Al Qaeda disarms select Taliban commanders

Central Asia Online reports:

Al-Qaeda is blocking Taliban fighters who favour peace talks from negotiating with Kabul.

The terror movement has disarmed two Taliban commanders, Mullah Laal Muhammad and Mullah Alaoddin of the Haqqani network, who were interested in starting peace talks with the Afghan government, Kunduz Provincial Governor Engineer Muhammad Omar said.

“Al-Qaeda has disarmed two prominent commanders of the Haqqani Network in Kunduz in the past two weeks, and nine others in fear of being disarmed have buried their weapons and fled to Pakistan,” Omar told Central Asia Online.

Four observations:

(1) We’ve been hearing similar reports, so this strikes us as entirely plausible.

(2) Notice that al Qaeda is operating in Kunduz and is strong enough there to disarm select Taliban/Haqqani commanders who are waffling in their commitment to the fight. Kunduz, obviously, is in the far north of Afghanistan — far away from the tribal belt straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan where al Qaeda and its jihadist brethren are headquartered. This says much about the reach of al Qaeda inside Afghanistan. There have been a number of attempts to downplay the significance of al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan, but its ability to operate so far away from the mothership demonstrates once again that its roots are deep and far-reaching.

(3) Independently, we know that al Qaeda is operating in Kunduz. ISAF is currently hunting Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) commanders there. The IMU is one of the core al Qaeda groups. Kunduz Provincial Governor Engineer Muhammad Omar is quoted in the piece as saying that the Uzbeks don’t want peace. He is most likely referring to IMU members.

(4) Perhaps the most important observation in the Central Asia Online account is this:

Kunduz representative to the Afghan parliament Moyeen Merastyal confirmed the governor’s statement.

“The groups that are supporting the Taliban from outside don’t want peace talks in Afghanistan as they consider stability detrimental to their interests,” Merastyal said. “They want terrorism in the region, not only in Afghanistan, so anyone who looks interested in peace talks is being disarmed or captured,” he said, referring to the arrest of some Taliban figures in Pakistan.

In all the talk of the possibility of peace between some elements of the Taliban and the Afghan government, Merastyal’s point remains the most important one. The Taliban and other jihadist proxies of the Pakistani ISI are not going to make peace unless the ISI wants them to. It is just that simple. Here we have a good illustration of some Taliban commanders wanting to reconcile and their efforts being blocked by outside forces.

And isn’t it interesting that in this case al Qaeda is performing the same function that the ISI does? That is, al Qaeda is neutering commanders in northern Afghanistan who are not as committed to war as they should be, just as the ISI does in Pakistan.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Eric says:

    Good news, bad news, or old news?
    What I get from this is:
    1) The Taliban are starting to feel pressure to negotiate; ie operations against them are hurting them. (Good news)
    2) The relationship ISI has with the Taliban is also extended to al Qaeda (Bad/Old news?)

  • blert says:

    This point needs more visibility.
    You’re right on target.


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