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.
According to a new report by the State Department, the Afghan Taliban and its Haqqani Network are still “operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.” Pakistan has assisted the US in counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda. However, by refusing to move against the Taliban, including the Haqqanis, Pakistan is harboring al Qaeda’s most important allies in the region.
In 2017, LWJ reported unprecedented levels of airstrikes in Somalia and Yemen. Thus far in 2018, the United States has sustained its high strike tempo in Somalia and improved transparency on its air campaign in Yemen. Strikes in Pakistan have leveled off, however press restrictions make tracking operations there difficult. In Libya, the U.S. has targeted jihadists sparingly.
A team of jihadists assaulted Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior in Kabul earlier today. It is the latest in a string of attacks inside the Afghan capital this year. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State’s Khorasan “province” are able to hit targets inside the city.