Taliban keeping links with al-Qaeda despite deal with US: UN report

Al-Qaida said to quietly gain ‘strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate’ under Taliban protection

The Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan appear to have maintained their links with the al-Qaeda terror group, citing a United Nations report published Monday warns.

The report, dated April 30, was produced by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team with the UN panel handling the restrictions on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

“Relations between the Taliban … and Al-Qaida remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage,” the report asserts, adding that the two groups have been communicating ahead of the deal’s signing in late February and the Taliban “offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties.”

The strongest vow to do so was delivered by Gul Agha Ishakzai, a former advisor to the Taliban founder Mullah Omar, to al-Qaeda Central head Hamza Usama Muhammad bin Laden in a personal meeting.

The report specifically highlights the Haqqani Network — an armed Afghan-Pakistani Pashtun insurgent group aligned and intertwined with the Taliban — as the one linked with the al-Qaeda most closely.

The report notes that the “senior leadership of Al-Qaida remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives.”

“Al-Qaida is quietly gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under their protection,” the report warns.

Under the deal signed in Doha, the US agreed to a gradual pullout out of Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban joining talks with Kabul — and making sure Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven for international terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda, again.


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