Taliban threatens to ‘continue its Jihad’ if U.S., NATO forces remain in Afghanistan

The Taliban threatened to “continue its Jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces” if the U.S. and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan past the previously announced date of May 1, 2021.

The statement was issued by the Taliban after President Joe Biden said on March 25 that it would be “hard to meet the May 1 deadline,” for the U.S. military to withdraw. The Trump administration signed the Doha Agreement with the Taliban on Feb. 29, 2020 that set the date for the U.S. to leave. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to nebulous and unenforceable counterterrorism agreements, and committed to open talks with Afghan civil society.

“We are not staying for a long time. We will leave,” Biden said in the March 25 press conference. “The question is when we leave… it’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline just in terms of tactical reasons.”

On March 26, the Taliban, in an official statement that was released in English on Voice of Jihad, leveled a direct threat to resume attacks on U.S. forces. The Doha Agreement, often wrongly referred to as a peace deal, also stipulated that the Taliban would end attacks on U.S. troops. From the Taliban statement:

If, God forbid, all foreign troops not withdraw from Afghanistan on the specified date in line with the Doha agreement, undoubtedly it will be considered a violation of the accord by America for which it shall be held liable and which shall also harm its international standing.

In such a case, the Islamic Emirate – as a representative of the believing, valiant and Mujahid Afghan nation – will be compelled to defend its religion and homeland and continue its Jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate its country.

All responsibility for the prolongation of war, death and destruction will be on the shoulders of those whom committed this violation.

Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding vague remarks by the American President, Voice of Jihad, March 26, 2021

The Biden administration has made a push to get the Taliban to negotiate directly with the Afghan government and agree to an interim government. The proposed deal includes the Taliban accepting the Afghan constitution, electing a new government, and a cease fire. The Taliban refuses to recognize the Afghan government and the existing constitution, both which it views as “deviant” and “satanic western and disbelieving ideologies.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Latest U.S. proposal for ending Afghan conflict runs counter to Taliban beliefs.]

The U.S. military has not suffered a death at the hands of the Taliban since the Doha Agreement was signed last year. However, the Taliban has increased the ferocity of its attacks against Afghan security forces as well as a targeted campaign of assassinations against members of civil society including judges, lawyers, reporters, civil rights advocates, and others. The Taliban has repeatedly said it would not share power with the Afghan government and the only acceptable outcome to the conflict is the return of the Taliban’s Islamic Emitate of Afghanistan, with its emir, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada as the leader.

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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