Al Qaeda efficiently performed ‘lengthy recreation’ in Afghanistan, FBI and UN officers say

Al Qaeda has been “strategically affected person” and efficiently “performed the lengthy recreation” in Afghanistan via its shut relationship with the Taliban and Haqqani community, in accordance with two key worldwide safety officers from the FBI and the United Nations.

Charles Spencer, the assistant director of the FBI’s worldwide operations division, and Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator of the UN’s analytical assist and sanctions monitoring crew in regards to the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban, made their feedback about al Qaeda’s resilience throughout an interview with U.S. journalist Peter Bergen on the Soufan Middle’s International Safety Discussion board on Tuesday.

“I believe they’re sensible. They performed the lengthy recreation. They did play the lengthy recreation, I believe, realizing — I imply, should you go all the best way again to the ‘90s, I imply, bin Laden pledged allegiance to the Taliban, and I believe the Taliban has been a assist of al Qaeda for all this time,” Spencer mentioned. “They usually knew if the Taliban got here again in, I consider these allegiances, I consider these understandings will nonetheless be there. I believe externally, whether or not the Taliban says it is going to embrace it or not, I believe the underlying, the long-standing relationship they’ve had, will carry via.”

He added that al Qaeda “have made regular beneficial properties coming again, however I believe they’re gaining power, and I believe this [Taliban takeover] will reinvigorate them to a big quantity.”

Fitton-Brown had related ideas, saying, “I’d characterize them as having been strategically affected person through the years, which was not at all times look in comparison with the fast enlargement and the type of spectacular successes that ISIL had for some time, however I believe that that appears extra like a supply of power now within the sense that al Qaeda has survived, its model has survived, and it stays embedded in quite a few battle zones all over the world, which has given it a locus and the chance to coach and maintain its recognition.”

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Quite a lot of members of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani community  have acquired prime positions  within the Taliban’s “caretaker” authorities, together with chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who’s now appearing inside minister. Haqqani, who can also be the “deputy emir” of the Taliban, “presently leads the day-to-day actions of the Haqqani Community,” in accordance with the State Division’s web site. Haqqani has been designated as a terrorist by america, and the State Division’s Reward for Justice program is providing  $10 million for his arrest.

The U.N. official was requested about Sirajuddin’s function within the new Taliban authorities, and Fitton-Brown mentioned he’s “assessed to be a member of the broader al Qaeda management.”

“Sirajuddin Haqqani embodies the natural hyperlink between the Taliban and al Qaeda, and his appointment into that function leads us to consider that al Qaeda has a safe secure haven in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future,” he added.

The State Division insisted simply final month that it believes the Taliban and the Haqqani community are “distinct” teams. Anas Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s brother, mentioned  final month, “We’re the Taliban.”

Bergen described the inside minister function because the equal of somebody working each the Division of Homeland Safety and the FBI and requested Spencer what he manufactured from Sirajuddin’s key place.

“I believe it’s going to be attention-grabbing how america authorities interacts with the brand new authorities of Afghanistan based mostly on that, as a result of so many members of the federal government are from the Taliban or from al Qaeda or have this background,” Spencer mentioned. “How are we going to get round that? As a result of right here you might have members of a delegated terrorist group that are actually primarily working a authorities.”

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Hibatullah Akhundzada, thought of  the “emir” of Afghanistan by the Taliban, is a robust al Qaeda ally. Present al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri reportedly  swore allegiance to Akhundzada because the “emir of the believers” in 2016.

Joint Chiefs of Workers Chairman Gen. Mark Milley warned final month, “The Taliban was and stays a terrorist group they usually nonetheless haven’t damaged ties with al Qaeda.”

“Al Qaeda continues to be in Afghanistan,” Milley added. “I consider they’ve aspirations to reconstitute, and in the event that they develop the potential, I consider they’ve aspirations to strike … I believe al Qaeda is at conflict with america nonetheless.”

Intelligence officers from the DIA and CIA mentioned final month that al Qaeda  may turn out to be a menace to the U.S. homeland inside a 12 months, utilizing Afghanistan as a base as soon as once more.

Matthew Pottinger, a deputy nationwide safety adviser for former President Donald Trump, additionally spoke on the discussion board Tuesday.

“I’m deeply skeptical that the Taliban would ever dwell as much as its settlement to sever ties with al Qaeda,” Pottinger mentioned. “I imply, they didn’t sever ties with them proper after 9/11, which price them 20 years of time in Afghanistan. They actually didn’t sever their ties throughout these 20 years that we have been at conflict in opposition to them.”

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