Despite repeated claims to the contrary, al Qaeda has not been defeated in Afghanistan, and it still continues to operate alongside its ally, the Taliban.
The attack is the deadliest in decades for a region fraught with constant, often violent, struggles. Jaish-e-Mohammad is part of a syndicate of terror groups allied with al Qaeda and supported by the Pakistani state.
According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), al Qaeda’s senior leaders are strengthening the al Qaeda “network’s global command structure.” Meanwhile, the Islamic State “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.” Both groups maintain worldwide networks or affiliates, branches, and supporters.
AL Qaeda’s operatives are fighting in more countries around the world today than was the case on 9/11. And its leaders still want to target the United States and its interest and allies. The war they started is far from over.
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.
Al Qaeda has long operated in Ghazni province, the site of a large-scale Taliban offensive in recent days. In 2010, Osama bin Laden ordered his men to relocate from northern Pakistan into Ghazni and other Afghan provinces. Bin Laden’s lieutenant also wrote in mid-2010 that al Qaeda had “very strong military activity” in at least eight Afghan provinces, including Ghazni. More recently, American and Afghan forces have targeted al Qaeda operatives in the province.
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.