In exchange for two kidnapped U.S. and Australian professors, the Afghan government freed dangerous Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders Haji Malik Khan, Anas Haqqani, and Qari Abdul Rasheed Omari.
Since July 2018, the UN Security Council has published at least four reports documenting al Qaeda’s close and longstanding relationship with the Taliban.
Trump’s acquiescence to Pakistan, which has backed the Taliban’s deadly insurgency in Afghanistan, occurs less than two years after he accused Pakistan of providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror”. Trump also said Pakistan returned billions of dollars in US aid with “nothing but lies & deceit.”
According to a recently released report by a UN Security Council monitoring team, the Taliban is the “primary partner for all foreign terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan,” including al Qaeda. The only exception is the Islamic State, which opposes the Taliban.
Ayman al-Zawahiri has released a eulogy for Jalaluddin Haqqani, a key figure in the Taliban-al Qaeda axis. The Taliban announced Haqqani’s death last year. Zawahiri offers his condolences to the Taliban and its overall leader, the “Emir of the Faithful,” Hibatallah Akhundzada.
According to the UN’s Jan. 2019 assessment, al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban is “long-standing” and “strong.” And al Qaeda “continues to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.” The UN estimates that the Islamic State has several thousand fighters in Afghanistan as well.
A Taliban video eulogy for Jalaluddin Haqqani includes praise from three jihadists based in the UK and Syria: Hani al-Sibai, Dr. Abdullah al-Muhaysini and Sheikh Muslih al-Ulyani. Sibai is a well-known, pro-al Qaeda ideologue living in the UK. Muhaysini is a US-designated terrorist. Both Muhaysini and Ulyani operate in Syria.
The Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and Pakistani military have all honored Maulana Sami ul-Haq, a influential and radical cleric who was stabbed to death. Haq’s madrassa has been a breeding ground for the Taliban and other jihadist groups in the region.