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.”
In 2001, Omar was unwavering in his position that the Taliban was religiously obligated to protect Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cadre. The Taliban has remained true to Omar’s words, and fought an 18 year long war to defend the terror group.
Afghan officials have identified several AQIS members who were killed during a controversial raid in Musa Qala, Helmand earlier this week. They have also posted images purportedly documenting the weaponry, explosives and cash seized at the jihadists’ compound.
On Sept. 19, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at a hearing titled, “The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy.” His testimony focused on the close working relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Since July 2018, the UN Security Council has published at least four reports documenting al Qaeda’s close and longstanding relationship with the Taliban.
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.
Asim Umar, a senior al Qaeda official, has released a statement praising the Taliban’s “victory” in Afghanistan over the US. He also criticizes ISIS for dividing the jihadists’ ranks, praying that Allah ends the “fitnah.”
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.