The Taliban’s denial of Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan means that one of the two groups are not telling the truth. Either Al Qaeda has crafted an elaborate scheme to pretend it fights in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban, or the Taliban is lying, and Al Qaeda has fought there for decades and remains to this day.
During an online conference last week, CENTCOM commander Gen. McKenzie questioned the Taliban’s commitment to its supposed counterterrorism assurances. He pointed to al Qaeda’s presence in eastern Afghanistan and claimed Ayman al Zawahiri is there. In response, the Taliban falsely claimed that al Qaeda hasn’t been present in Afghanistan since the days of the Islamic Emirate.
According to a new report by a UN monitoring team, the Taliban “regularly consulted with Al Qaeda during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties.” The analysis contains numerous allegations of ongoing collusion between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
According to a new report by the Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, U.S. officials have assessed that the Taliban is “reluctant to publicly break with al Qaeda,” while Pakistan continues to harbor senior Taliban leaders, including the Haqqanis. The report confirms that the Taliban went on the offensive following the Feb. 29 withdrawal agreement with the U.S.
Last week, AQAP released an audio message form its new emir, Khalid Batarfi. In it, Batarfi renews his allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri on behalf of AQAP. He also praises the Taliban and Shabaab.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims the Taliban has agreed to “destroy” al-Qaeda as the U.S. withdraws from the country. The text of the withdrawal agreement doesn’t say that and the Trump administration hasn’t explained how the Taliban’s alleged “break” from al-Qaeda will be verified or enforced.
FDD’s Long War Journal reported earlier this month that the Turkistan Islamic Party released new images of its men fighting and training in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which is currently seeking to downplay the presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan, subsequently issued a statement claiming that the montage was “falsified.” That is a lie.
Eleven Taliban leaders have been reportedly exchanged for three kidnapped Indian engineers. One of the newly-freed Taliban commanders is Abdul Rashid Baluch. The US designated Baluch as a terrorist in 2015, reporting that he “served as a Taliban liaison officer to al Qaeda (AQ) and was responsible for planning meetings between Taliban senior leadership” and al Qaeda “members in Karachi, Pakistan.”