Al-Qaeda holds positions in Taliban government, UNSC report says

The United Nations Security Council has reported that Al-Qaeda maintains a close relationship with the Taliban and has infiltrated the group’s government institutions with the support of high-ranking officials.

In a report released on Tuesday, the council states that Afghanistan “remains a place of global significance for terrorism, with approximately 20 terrorist groups operating in the country.” The goal of these terror groups is to “spread their respective influence across the regions and to build theocratic quasi-state entities.”

The report highlighted that Al-Qaeda uses Afghanistan as an ideological and logistical hub to recruit new fighters and “covertly rebuild its external operations capability.” The group has also established new training centers in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of the country.

The UNSC stated that al-Qaeda’s capability to conduct large-scale terror attacks remains reduced, but its intent remains firm.

The Taliban’s main spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, in a tweet on Friday rejected the report as “inaccurate”.

In a previous report, released in June, the council stated that Al-Qaeda had been regaining strength under the Taliban protection.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden also claimed that there are no members of the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan. President Biden’s remarks were met with both support and criticism. While the Taliban welcomed the remarks, many inside and outside of the US criticized them.

The Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, expressed concern that Biden’s statements might “whitewash the longstanding ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” possibly leading the US towards recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government.

“That is something I will do everything in my power to oppose,” McCaul stressed.