The Pentagon and the US intelligence community have been consistently wrong about al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan, and evidence of strategic ties between the two groups does indeed exist.
Hazrat Abbas served as a leader for both al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. AQIS was formed to unite disparate jihadist factions to fight under the banner of the Afghan Taliban.
US and Afghan forces have targeted al Qaeda operatives in at least three Afghan provinces in recent weeks. One of the jihadists killed has been identified as Omar Khetab, the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Khetab and other AQIS operatives have been supporting the Taliban’s insurgency.
The commander, who went by the alias Abu “Khalid,” or Shahid Showkat, was highly sought by Indian security forces for his role in orchestrating attacks targeting Indian military positions and personnel.
On Aug. 31, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s leader, Zakir Musa, released an audio message in which he criticized the Pakistani government for supposedly betraying the jihad in Kashmir. Musa’s critique is consistent with al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s “code of conduct.”
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.
Jani Khel in Paktia province has changed hands three times over the past two weeks. The loss of Jani Khel to the Taliban demonstrates the difficulties Afghan forces face in holding onto remote contested districts.
Nawa district, which is adjacent to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, was under Taliban control for nine months before Afghan forces could muster the strength to mount an operation and retake it.