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.”
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.