Al-Qaeda maintains close ties with the Taliban terrorist group
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According to Edmund Fitton-Brown, former British diplomat and the coordinator of the United Nations monitoring team for the Islamic State, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban, Ayman Al-Zawahiri (leader of Al-Qaeda) has maintained close ties with the Taliban, with both groups regularly consulting each other throughout the ongoing peace process.
Brown stated in a webinar that “senior figures remain in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives”, adding that “the Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaeda during the negotiations with the United States, and they offered informal guarantees that they would honour their historic ties with Al-Qaeda”.
Under the stipulations of the historic U.S-Taliban peace deal in February, the Taliban agreed to sever its ties with terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda, and to stop using Afghan soil to harbour terrorist groups.
However, according to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States’ Special Representative for Afghanistan, the threat perception around Al-Qaeda remains limited, as the group has been reduced to a few hundred disjointed groups of fighters primarily focused on their own survival.
According to Christopher Miller, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in a testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security, “Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has been reduced to a few dozen fighters”, adding that they are “incapable of conducting attacks outside the country, under sustained counterterrorism pressure”.
The Taliban have denied these allegations, stating that they remain committed to ensuring peace in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the negotiations with the Kabul government remain on a knife-edge, as ceasefire violations have led to a surge in violence against pro-government forces and civilians.
Source: Business Recorder