A complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan would have been disastrous. The US government needs to drastically reassess America’s jihadist enemies and avoid the policy pitfalls of the past.
The Taliban has released an “open letter” to President Trump urging him to “adopt the strategy of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan instead of a troops increase.” The propaganda letter contains several erroneous or misleading claims. It is also disingenuous with respect to the jihadist threat emanating out of Afghanistan.
The State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism says that Pakistan “did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban,” including the Haqqani Network, in 2016. The Taliban’s leadership has long had a presence in Pakistan.
The Taliban has issued a second statement denying any responsibility for the May 31 bombing in Kabul. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) has accused the Haqqani Network and Pakistan of orchestrating the attack. The Taliban claims the NDS is lying and defends the Haqqanis, once again affirming their key role in the organization.
The Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman of Pakistan’s Senate. Haideri was injured. Dozens of others were also killed or wounded in the blast, which was launched in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
The US has killed or captured approximately 250 al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leaders and members in Afghanistan in 2016. US officials have downplayed the extent of al Qaeda’s presence in the country for years. After the raids this year, US intelligence should prepare a fresh assessment.
A new video from the Taliban features several images and clips of al Qaeda leaders, further demonstrating that the two remain firmly allied more than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings.