U.S. and Afghan officials say they targeted al Qaeda members in Musa Qala, a Taliban-controlled district in the southern Helmand province. Reports indicate that dozens of civilians perished during the clash that ensued.
According to a new report published by the United Nations, al Qaeda’s “alliance with the Taliban and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan remains firm,” as al Qaeda and the Taliban are “closely allied.” Some of the UN’s Member States consider al Qaeda’s global network to be a bigger long-term threat than the Islamic State.
Russia is openly advocating on behalf of the Taliban, arguing that the jihadist group should be considered a bulwark against the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan. But the Taliban is a bigger threat to Afghan security than Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men, the organization remains closely allied with al Qaeda and its own extremism should not be downplayed.
The US targeted Faruq al Qatani and Bilal al Utabi in an airstrike in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 23. Both of them have been involved in al Qaeda’s anti-Western plotting, according to the Pentagon. Qatani was identified as a key al Qaeda commander in Osama bin Laden’s files.