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Taliban deny knowledge al-Zawahiri is in Kabul, with some members blaming its Haqqanis

The Taliban government said in a statement that it had “no information about.” Ayman Al Zawahiri Arrive and stay in Kabul,” he said after a US airstrike that killed al-Qaeda’s head on the balcony of a safe house in central Kabul early Sunday morning.

A multi-party group already struggling to secure diplomatic relations with the international community since Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban Last August, the al Qaeda leader is now facing insurmountable pressure to explain that he has openly lived in Kabul’s notorious and wealthy Sherpur district. Formerly home to Western diplomats and expats, the area is dotted with large homes known locally as the ‘Poppy Palace’. It’s a nickname that reflects the drug money that flowed under the previous Afghan government that helped build many fancy homes.

Al-Zawahiri’s predecessor, Osama Bin Ladenand remained in the eye of government officials until May 2011, when he was killed by US Navy SEALs.

The hideout where al-Zawahiri was found had been occupied by Haqqanis, Sunni Islamic extremists allied with the Taliban who had seized it from a former Afghan government official. It is now owned by the Taliban’s acting interior minister, Sirajuddin “Siraj” Haqqani, who is also the infamous leader of his Haqqani Network, which has been designated a terrorist group by the United States. $10 million bounty on his head.

“Haqqani Taliban officials knew Zawahiri was in Kabul,” said a senior government official briefing reporters ahead of President Biden’s speech on Monday night. Haqqani Taliban members also said they “acted quickly to relocate Zawahiri’s wife, daughter and children to another location. It’s consistent with wider efforts to cover up that he lived in a safe house,” the official said.

A Taliban security chief told CBS News on Thursday that Sirajuddin Haqqani now accused Sirajuddin Haqqani of allowing al-Zawahiri to live in Kabul, adding: He said they could use him as a scapegoat. He added that “it is Haqqani’s responsibility to keep tabs on everyone in Kabul,” and that “many” of the group’s leaders said the interior minister’s actions had “severely damaged and disintegrated the Taliban.” ‘, he claimed. to punish him. ”

The same Taliban security chief told CBS News after the drone attack on Sunday that some “strange Arabs” had recently been seen near the safehouse, suggesting they may be members of Al Qaeda. I assumed there was.

However, a Taliban minister told CBS that the Taliban government was “not likely to dismiss Siraj Haqqani as Home Minister or change his role.” Ministers said the Taliban would conduct their own investigations in response to US complaints, and discussions are currently taking place within the group on whether they should remain committed to the Doha Accords.

“Indeed, some Taliban leaders have suggested that the end of Haqqanis would cause divisions among the Taliban, creating an even worse scenario for the regime.

“Given the hostilities that have developed between the various factions of the Taliban, the southern-based elements opposing the Haqqani network are the most notable. is done in the Haqqani network to score points for rivalries inside the Taliban,” Andrew Watkins, a senior expert on Afghanistan at the US Institute for Peace, told CBS.

The Taliban were among the first to take an attacking stance against al-Zawahiri, with a spokesperson issuing a statement early Monday morning confirming the US drone strike in Kabul and condemning it as a “clear violation”. of international principles and the Doha Accord. ”

A senior Taliban official then told CBS News on Monday that al-Zawahiri arrived at his hideout “about three weeks ago.” But a senior government official briefing reporters ahead of President Biden’s speech on Monday night said the United States discovered al-Zawahiri in his Kabul hideout months ago in April.

Another Taliban intelligence officer claimed to CBS News that al-Qaeda leaders were in Nuristan province in eastern Afghanistan before coming to Kabul.

Secretary of State Antony Brinken on Monday accused the Taliban of breaking promises. “By housing and sheltering al-Qaeda leaders in Kabul, the Taliban have flagrantly violated the Doha Accords and repeatedly assured the world that they will not allow terrorists to use Afghan territory to threaten the security of other countries.

“The IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) reiterates its commitment not to pose any threat to any country, including the United States, from Afghan soil,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Thursday. the Doha Agreement. Meanwhile, the IEA wants the United States to stop violating the agreement.”

A Kabul police spokesman told CBS News on Saturday that no one else was injured in the drone strike. This was confirmed by the Biden administration on Monday.

It is the Afghan civilians who are most likely to suffer in the aftermath of al-Zawahiri’s murder. Just last week, US officials led by the State Department held another meeting with Taliban officials in Uzbekistan. Release a portion of $3.5 billion Frozen Afghan central bank assets could help alleviate a severe humanitarian crisis that has been rapidly worsening in the country since last August, when it starved millions of people.

In response to CBS News’ request for comment on how the killing of al-Zawahiri will affect future U.S.-Taliban talks and what will happen to those much-needed funds, a State Department spokesman said: Thursday, “This egregious violation of the Taliban’s pledges means that the Doha Accord agreement will have real and lasting consequences for the relationship between the Taliban and the rest of the world. We recognize that it is practical and concerns the interests of the United States, including helping innocent Afghans through humanitarian and economic assistance. ) to seek the safe release of Mark Frericks; to advance and protect the human rights progress achieved over the past two decades; and to support American citizens, their families, and our partners in Afghanistan.”

A spokesperson said, “We are committed to the Afghan people and want them to stabilize their economy and live in a peaceful and stable country. I will continue.”

Written by Sirajuddin Haqqani New York Times editorial Back in February 2020, just days before the Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban, he wrote: Concerns are growing.”

Olivia Gazis contributed to the report.

Taliban deny knowledge al-Zawahiri is in Kabul, with some members blaming its Haqqanis

Source link Taliban deny knowledge al-Zawahiri is in Kabul, with some members blaming its Haqqanis

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