Ghazni is the tenth Afghan provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in the past week. Al Qaeda has deep roots in Ghazni. Osama bin Laden identified the province as a key safe haven for his men.
A raid against a Taliban explosives warehouse in Ghazni highlights the enduring relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda.
A suicide bomber dispatched by the Taliban detonated his explosives-laden vehicle outside of a facility run by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Ghazni earlier today. Preliminary casualty reports indicate that upwards of 200 people were either killed or wounded, including schoolchildren.
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.
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 Taliban never slowed in launching numerous attacks across the country even as it committed significant resources to the fight in Ghazni.
In addition to Ajristan and Khwaja Umar, the districts of Nawur, Jaghatu, and Deh Yak have fallen to the Taliban. Meanwhile, Resolute Support has intentionally misled the the public about the status of seven of Ghazni’s districts. Resolute Support claimed these districts were under government control; in reality the Taliban physically controlled the terrain while the Afghan government operated the government remotely from Ghazni City.
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.
Ongoing Afghan security operations in Ghazni province have resulted in the death of one senior Taliban commander and the arrest of a top Taliban financier, according to Afghan authorities.