Taliban emir ‘promises’ Afghanistan won’t be a base for terrorism

The Taliban’s supreme leader once again ‘promised’ that the group will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a launchpad for attacks against the world. The Taliban has made this false statement for decades, even prior to 9/11.

Taliban emir Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada made the statement in his annual Eid ul Adha message, which was publishing in English on July 6.

“We assure our neighbors, the region and the world that we will not allow anyone to use our territory to threaten the security of other countries,” Mullah Haibitullah said. “We also want other countries not to interfere in our internal affairs.”

Haibatullah’s assurance that Afghanistan will not be used by regional and global terror groups should be taken with a truckload of salt. The Taliban has lied about Al Qaeda and other terror groups’ presence in Afghanistan before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the U.S., and the Taliban’s role in sheltering al Qaeda and affiliated groups post 9/11.

As the 9/11 Commission found, the Taliban told an American diplomat in April 1998 that it didn’t know where Osama bin Laden was and, in any event, he wasn’t a threat to the United States. Four months later, on Aug. 7, 1998, Al Qaeda operatives drove two truck bombs into the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. From the 9/11 Commission Report:

“Though Secretary Albright made no secret of thinking the Taliban “despicable,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, led a delegation to South Asia—including Afghanistan—in April 1998. No U.S. official of such rank had been to Kabul in decades. Ambassador Richardson went primarily to urge negotiations to end the civil war. In view of Bin Ladin’s recent public call for all Muslims to kill Americans, Richardson asked the Taliban to expel Bin Ladin. They answered that they did not know his whereabouts. In any case, the Taliban said, Bin Ladin was not a threat to the United States.”

The 9/11 Commission Report, Page 111

Post 9/11, the Taliban has repeatedly stated that it won’t allow territory it controls to be used as a base for terror groups. The Taliban issued numerous statements claiming this, and in the Feb. 29, 2020 deal between the Taliban and the U.S., the Taliban gave vague and unenforceable counterterrorism assurances to the U.S. [See LWJ report, Taliban leader declares victory after U.S. agrees to withdrawal deal.]

However, at the same time, the Taliban lied about Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, and claimed Al Qaeda and allied terror group leaders and operatives left Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

This, of course, is a lie. Multiple international and regional terrorist organizations have fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan since 9/11, including Al Qaeda leaders such as Farouq al-Qahtani, who plotted attacks against the West.

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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