Washington: Al-Qaeda’s bond with Taliban is “now much deeper” than the world thinks as the former’s terrorists are given sanctuary by the Taliban in exchange for expertise in fund-raising and bomb-making, a senior Afghan intelligence official said.
According to a report in CNN on Friday, the last year raid on a remote village in Afghanistan in which an al Qaeda leader was killed depicts how close the two terror groups are.
The report comes at a time when US troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan and many fear that the withdrawal of foreign troops will lead to unrest in the war-torn country.
The Taliban has pledged that they will not cooperate with terrorists or give them shelter.
The first bullet point the peace deal signed with the US in Doha last year states that the Taliban “will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.”
The senior Afghan intelligence official said the peace pledge to the Trump administration “was just like a joke between themselves. They knew that this will not happen.”
The al-Qaeda terrorists “collect money from different parts of the world and give it to the Taliban,” the official explained. “They train suicide bombers and help them in strategic thinking. In return, the Taliban provide them shelter.
The official said: “It is not only now an ideological connection, it’s also a family connection. There are intermarriages. And that is impossible for Taliban to stop, and to not allow [al Qaeda] to do something outside the country.”
The Afghan officials cited previously undisclosed details about the October raid targeting Husam Abd-al-Rauf also known as Abu Muhsen al-Masri, as evidence of al Qaeda’s growth.
Al-Rauf was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a Manhattan court on December 27, 2018 for “conspiracy to kill United States nationals” and “providing material support for a foreign terrorist organization,” according to the FBI wanted poster released at the time.
In the messages found on his computer, al-Rauf told his al Qaeda counterparts that Afghanistan could soon return to its pre-9/11 position as a leading hub for the terror group, the senior official said.
The official expressed concern that the next phase of the US withdrawal would lead Afghanistan to “become [a] base, a stronghold for those people to organize attacks outside [the country].”
The senior intelligence official said he did not have any evidence at present to suggest that al Qaeda was planning operations beyond Afghanistan. “But they are entering a new place of reorganization and then making missions on a larger scale,” he said.