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?
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