Pentagon report on Afghanistan excludes al Qaeda’s pledge to the Taliban

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While reading through the December 2015 edition of the Department of Defense’s Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan report, there is one glaring omission: the report makes no mention whatsoever of Mullah Mansour accepting an oath of allegiance from al Qaeda’s Ayman al Zawahiri.

There is no way possible that those in the Pentagon writing this report were not aware of Zawahiri’s oath and Mansour’s acceptance. Sources indicated to Long War Journal that US military and intelligence officials were aware when Zawahiri pledged allegiance to Mansour. Sources said officials were also aware when Mansour accepted Zawahiri’s pledge.

The Taliban publicly advertised Zawahiri’s oath of allegiance, in English no less, on its official propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. You can see a screen shot of the page above (the page at Voice of Jihad is no longer online).

And at least two other times, the Taliban highlighted Zawahiri’s pledge. In early September, the Taliban released a video that highlighted Mansour accepting Zawahiri’s pledge. The Taliban also re-published Zawahiri’s oath in that month’s edition of Al Sumud, the group’s official magazine.

Ironically, the Pentagon report does catch that the emir of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan swore allegiance to the Islamic State. How do the writers of this report catch the development related to the IMU, yet miss the bigger issue of the al Qaeda-Taliban alliance?

US military and intelligence officials who work Afghanistan closely monitor the Taliban’s propaganda on Voice of Jihad, Al Sumud, and on other platforms on a daily basis. The failure to mention al Qaeda’s renewed oath to the Taliban seems to be no accidental omission.

The bigger question is: Why?

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

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  • John 2/8 says:

    They wouldn’t want the American public to oppose negotiations with the Taliban… The government has done a terrible job of informing the public of just how barbarian the Taliban is. If they had, Americans would be opposed to it to begin with. It makes me cringe whenever I hear some ignorant asshat call them “freedom fighters”…

  • Mark says:

    Don’t know, but given that al Qaeda existed before its allegiance to Mullah Omar, perhaps it is not that significant (other than in looking at an al Qaeda/ISIS schism). When are our forces done? What, exactly, in concrete, quantitatively measurable terms, constitutes victory? And, why do the bad guys most of interest to the United States keep popping up in Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan? The report doesn’t list any under objectives or strategy. It just gives nebulous, open-ended, means-whatever-you-want-it-to things about continuing missions and working with NATO partners. Nobody seems to have any idea how this leads us to any end state. Fourteen years so far, and how many more to come? Nobody knows.

    Al Qaeda and ISIS are not restricted by borders. They must be hunted wherever they are. The fascination with trying to fix Afghanistan is strange and seems to be largely irrelevant to the original problem of terrorism committed by al Qaeda (and now ISIS, as well).

  • D h says:

    Hard to believe. Is an understatement, baffling, this makes the Gov. look like a bunch of baffoons not that they needed to convince anyone anything different. It’s as if they are doing it on purpose. What the hell……

  • Scott Jones says:


    Unfortunately, this manipulation of intelligence reports is not new. The intelligence community works for the President, in particular, the heads of the various agencies. The analysts themselves have nothing to do with this manipulation; it is the people at the highest levels of our intelligence agencies who are vulnerable to coercion from the White House. What White House staffers want are intelligence reports that support the president’s policies. That way, if the president’s policies fail, the president can blame “bad intelligence” and produce “proof” of the “bad intelligence.” Careerists at high levels in the intelligence agencies want to keep the president happy. These are people who will sacrifice their integrity and “play ball”.

    This is how it is in Washington, D.C.

  • Thomas Melber says:

    Wild guess: as the USA are negotiating with the TB, they are also indirectly – willingly or unwillingly – doing so with AQ. And it is likely that AQ members will hold positions in a TB led government later.

    Too bad to have that on an official record, the USA would have to suspend talks with the TB or to get them disengaged with AQ, which is unlikely to happen, allegiance accepted.

  • Paul D. (Pete) Speer Jr says:


    The USG wants a more clear cut orderly war so as not to be dizzied by the whirling allegiances.

    What is clear to this uncleared observer is that the whole Afghan/Pakistan mess is being supported by Riyadh through the ISI. al Qaeda, which I have described as the McDonalds of the terrorist business was funded by Saudi money from the profits of the oil economy. Was government money involved or was it solely from the oil largesse by individual Saudis feeling generous. It does not really matter. al Qaeda followed on the Great Sunni Mosque construction binge throughout Africa, Europe and the USA. To these mosques were sent language trained Imams for the long term subversion of the amateur governments in place.

    al-Qaeda is and has been horizontally organized, bin Laden was not the chief executive officer. He was the COO, perhaps. It provided franchises not a Caliphate.

    Our invasion drove Saddam’s Army through the northern (Sunni) provinces of Iraq into NE Syria and then across the border into Turkey. The political controlling Turkish Army saw the chance to hold down the Kurdish majority in SE Turkey. With the election of the Islamist Erdogan, the Army melded with him and the dreams of Ottomans regaining control of the Holy Cities and overthrowing Saudi Arabia returned. The Turks (in my estimation) went Riyadh one better. It brought out of mothballs the idea of the Caliphate, historically the basis for the expansion of Islam on broad fronts.

    The true fight is between Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the control of Sunni Islam. The second fight is between — as it has been for thirteen centuries — Sunni and Shi’a. Vastly outnumbered, the combined Shi’a majorities in Iraq and Iran is seeking its place as the new Persian Empire. Ideally, Iran would have aligned itself with Israel. The failure to do so, instead supporting the Shi’a Hezbollah, has still to be paid for

  • john says:

    yet, the anti taliban faction leaders and warlords america fought with and put in power are wayyyyyyy worse than the taliban hands down. dont cringe its not worth it why you want to stress over a game way over our heads.

  • Pentagon excludes reference to Pledge. All the comments on this seem to have one common [braided] thread: what constitutes a “win,” wanting to maintain focus on the enemy (al Qaeda, IS, Taliban, etc.,) while at the same time being perplexed and un-nerved with our own government’s duplicity. Of course, the reason given in 2001 for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was to degrade both the Taliban and al Qaeda. Before the end of that year, this objective had been accomplished: The Taliban government had been deposed, and al Qaeda was in disarray. Neither “defeated” mind you. However, this was not the stated goal. After retiring from a 34 year Army career, I worked for the DAs Human Terrain System in 2013, stationed in Kapisa Province, FOB Tagab. Our job was to provide “cultural analysis,” filtered to Brigade Combat Teams (BCT.)
    In those days, U.S. authorities, not to mention the Afghan Government, did not want to hear any analysis- especially during what came to be known as the “transition”– that ran contrary to settlement talks being held in Qatar between the Taliban and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GiROA.)
    Fast forward to today. Is it any surprise that the Pentagon excluded reference to the exact same enemy nexus that got us involved in the first place? The Taliban’s Mullah Omar to al Qaeda’s bin Laden then, Mullah Mansour to Zawahiri now. No, it is not surprising. The same filters are in place. The Islamic State is the new bugaboo. To U.S. politicians, Taliban and al Qaeda are old news.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram