Al Qaeda praises Taliban’s ‘historic victory’ in Afghanistan

The image above is from a May 2019 Al Qaeda video titled, “Under the Shade of the Islamic Emirate.”

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership has released a two-page statement congratulating the Islamic ummah on the occasion of the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan. The brief message was distributed online by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s central media arm, in Arabic and English just hours after the last American soldier left Kabul.

Al Qaeda’s leaders praise Allah for the victory, saying it “soothed” their hearts to hear verses from the Quran recited in the “Presidential Palace in Kabul, after it had been cleansed from the filth of the Americans.”

“We praise the Almighty, the Ominpotent, who humiliated and defeated America, the head of disbelief,” the statement reads. “We praise Him for breaking America’s back, tarnishing its global reputation and expelling it, disgraced and humiliated, from the Islamic land of Afghanistan.” 

The authors refer to the Taliban as the Islamic Emirate throughout the statement. They repeat the description of Afghanistan as the “graveyard of empires,” saying the country is an “impregnable fortress” and the Islamic ummah has achieved a “historic victory.”

Praise for Taliban’s leadership

As Sahab singles out four Taliban leaders for special praise: the three emirs of the group since its founding and Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of Osama bin Laden’s first benefactors in Afghanistan.

Before the 9/11 hijackings, Osama bin Laden swore his allegiance to the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Omar. Ayman al Zawahiri maintained that oath on behalf of al Qaeda following bin Laden’s death in 2011. Zawahiri pledged his own fealty to the two jihadists who succeeded Omar as the Taliban’s emir, first Mullah Mansour and then the current leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada. This is the context for today’s statement. 

“On this historic occasion, we would like to offer our congratulations to the leadership of the Islamic Emirate, specifically Haibatullah Akhundzada,” the statement reads. “May Allah accept your martyrs – the men, women and children who offered sacrifices in this path!”

As Sahab’s writers recall that Mullah Omar defied America by refusing to turn over Osama bin Laden in 2001. “With firm trust in Allah’s promise of victory, [Omar] made his famous statement, the echo of which can be heard today, loud and clear, all across Afghanistan, indeed all across the Islamic World,” the authors write. 

Al Qaeda then recounts Mullah Omar’s vow in 2001: “Allah has promised us victory, and Bush has promised us defeat; we shall see which of the two promises shall be fulfilled!” 

Nearly twenty years later, the Taliban is victorious. 

The statement continues: “May Allah bless the soul of the Emir of the Believers, the defiant, uncompromising leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour!” Mansour was named the Taliban emir in mid-2015, after the group was forced to admit that Mullah Omar had passed away two years earlier. Mansour openly praised bin Laden and Zawahiri before meeting his own demise in 2016.

As Sahab asks Allah to “have mercy on the mentor of the Mujahideen, the father of martyrs, Sheikh Jalaluddin Haqqani.”

Al Qaeda was incubated in Haqqani’s camps in eastern Afghanistan during the 1980s. The Haqqanis and al Qaeda remain intertwined to this day. Haqqani’s son, Sirajuddin, is currently the deputy emir of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate. In its eulogy for Jalaluddin in 2018, al Qaeda referred to Sirajuddin Haqqani and Haibatullah Akhundzada as “our emirs in the Islamic Emirate.”

In the statement released today, Al Qaeda calls on the Afghan nation to “unite around the blessed leadership of the Islamic Emirate — a leadership that has over the years proven its sincerity and keenness to safeguard the interests of the masses and protect their religion, lives, and wealth.” 

“We call upon the Afghan nation to abide by the decisions and Shariah-based policies of the blessed Islamic Emirate,” the statement reads. Al Qaeda’s senior leaders add that the Islamic ummah should “extend its total support to the Islamic Emirate in all fields, specifically at this critical juncture in which all forces of disbelief have set their eyes upon this Islamic nation.” 

Al Qaeda sees the Taliban’s victory as a model for jihadists elsewhere

As Sahab’s authors write that the Taliban’s victory demonstrates “what the Islamic nation is capable of when it unites, takes up arms and fights in the Way of Allah to defend its religion, its sanctities, its lands and wealth.” In other words, al Qaeda argues that only armed jihad can lead to victory. 

 “So our dear Ummah! It is time for you to prepare for the next stage of the struggle, the way for which has been paved by the victory of the defiant Afghan nation,” As Sahab’s men advise. “With the help of Allah, this historic victory will open the way for the Muslim masses to achieve liberation from the despotic rule of tyrants who have been imposed by the West on the Islamic World.” 

Al Qaeda’s men pray to Allah that just as he “liberated” Afghanistan, he will “liberate Palestine from Zionist occupation and the Islamic Maghreb from French occupation,” while also liberating “the Levant, Somalia, Yemen, Kashmir and the rest of the Islamic lands from the clutches of the enemies of Islam.” Al Qaeda hopes that the Taliban’s victory will lead to additional victories for the “oppressed” around the world. 

The two-page statement is hardly surprising. Al Qaeda first heralded the Taliban’s “victory” in March 2020, just weeks after the Trump administration entered into a withdrawal agreement in Doha. The jihadists knew that the accord paved the way for the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 

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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