The US warns that Al Qaeda “is gaining strength” and says it operates “under the protection of the Taliban”

A delegation of the Taliban travels to Iran to maintain official contacts

The United States Government has warned that the terrorist organization Al Qaeda “is gaining strength” in Afghanistan while “continuing to operate under the protection of the Taliban”, despite the historic February 2020 peace agreement between Washington and the Insurgents forced the group to cut its ties with Al Qaeda.

The Treasury Department has highlighted in a report that Al Qaeda “continues to operate with the Taliban under the protection of the Taliban” and has indicated that the terrorist organization “takes advantage of its relationship with the Taliban through a network of embedded mentors and advisers. with the Taliban who provide advice, guidance and financial support. “

He also stated that senior officials of the Haqqani Network, an ally of the Taliban and integrated into the group, “have discussed creating a new joint unit of armed combatants in cooperation and financed with Al Qaeda.”

On the other hand, the Treasury Department has highlighted that “elements of Al Qaeda, including the affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQSI) and terrorist groups that attack Pakistan, such as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), continue to use the Afghanistan-Pakistan border as a safe zone. “

The Afghan authorities have repeatedly accused the Taliban of maintaining their ties with Al Qaeda despite the peace agreement with the United States, which has been rejected by the insurgent group, which has argued that the terrorist organization “has no presence” in the country.

However, Kabul has announced the death of several members of the group in recent months, including the media chief of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda and, according to various terrorism experts, the group’s second-in-command, Egyptian Abu Muhsin al Masri.

For his part, the coordinator of the United Nations Taliban, Al Qaeda and Islamic State Monitoring Team, Edmund Fitton-Brown, said in October that this terrorist organization continues to be “strongly integrated” with the Taliban.

“The Taliban were speaking periodically and at a very high level with Al Qaeda and reaffirmed that they would continue to maintain their historical ties,” said Fitton-Brown, adding that their relations “have not changed substantially” since the signing of the agreement. of peace.

Al Qaeda has lost strength and capacity to attack the West in the last decade but its leader, the Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, is believed to remain in hiding in Afghan territory along with other leaders of the terrorist group, including Al Masri.

In another vein, the ‘number two’ of the Taliban, Mullah Abdulghani Baradar, is in Iran at the head of a delegation of the group to address the situation in Afghanistan, as confirmed by the group’s spokesman, Mohamad Naim.

Naim has highlighted through his account on the social network Twitter that the delegation has arrived in Iran after an “official invitation” by Tehran and has added that both parties “will address the relations between the two countries, the situation of refugees. and the political and security situation in Afghanistan and the region. “

Afghanistan has experienced a spike in violence in recent months despite the agreement between the Taliban and the United States in February 2020 and the peace talks between the group and the Afghan government, whose delegations agreed in December on the ‘road map ‘ for the process.

In this context, at least one person has died as a result of the explosion of a bomb in the capital, Kabul, as confirmed by the local police, while the ‘number two’ of the council of Kunduz province (north), Safiulá Amiri, has been injured in another attack, as reported by the Afghan television channel Tolo TV.

Despite the restart of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, the Kabul government has ruled out further releases of Taliban prisoners amid the increase in attacks, after insurgents have demanded the release of another 7,000 members of the group.

In fact, the first vice president of Afghanistan, Amuralá Salé, suggested last week the possibility of executing some Taliban who are imprisoned due to the increase in killings and attacks by insurgents despite the peace talks.

For his part, the acting US Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, confirmed on January 15 that Washington had reduced to 2,500 the number of soldiers deployed in the country, as contemplated in the aforementioned agreement and in view of the total withdrawal of troops from the North American country of Afghanistan.

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