After a lengthy absence from the screen, Zawahiri returns to promote his vision for global jihad in a new video titled, “Jerusalem Will Not Be Judaized.”
The U.S. Treasury Department states in a Jan. 4 memo that al Qaeda is “gaining strength” in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s protection. The same memo points to the Islamic State’s “logistical hubs” inside Turkey.
The agreement signed by the U.S. and the Taliban made no such stipulations that the Taliban must halt attacks on Afghan forces. Yet the U.S. military is surprised that the Taliban is striking Afghan forces.
According to a newly released UN monitoring team report, al-Qaeda’s relations with the Taliban “continue to be close and mutually beneficial.” The relationship has continued despite al-Qaeda’s reported concerns over the Taliban’s talks with the U.S.
On Sept. 19, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at a hearing titled, “The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy.” His testimony focused on the close working relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
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.
An AQIS Member known as Abdul Haseeb al-Kashmiri was recently killed in Ghazni, according to jihadists online. His death was reported on a Telegram channel that supports Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an al Qaeda-linked group in Kashmir.
Although John Walker Lindh is commonly known as the “American Taliban,” he was actually trained by al Qaeda and belonged to Osama bin Laden’s pro-Taliban fighting force.
Since late April, Shabaab has released a series of videos emphasizing its place in al Qaeda’s global network. Two of the videos were recorded by the group’s emir, Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Umar, a normally reclusive figure. Abu Ubaydah refers to the Taliban’s emir as the “Commander of the Faithful” and Ayman al Zawahiri as the “father-emir” while addressing the mujahideen in Syria and Yemen.
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.
Al Qaeda has released a eulogy for Abu al Khayr al Masri, who was killed in a US airstrike in Idlib, Syria in late February. The eulogy emphasizes his close relationship with Osama bin Laden and his role as al Qaeda’s “representative” in meetings with the Taliban. Once in Syria, Masri was “honored” to oversee “combat operations” in the insurgents’ “management and planning rooms.”
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.