Senate Republicans urge Blinken to designate Taliban as foreign terrorist organization

Senate Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, raised concerns about the Taliban’s murderous history and the appointment. recent report from Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani terrorist network. , as Minister of the Interior.

“Given their history of supporting terrorist attacks against the United States, their brutal governance style, their continued display of atrocities against Americans and our allies, and now their enhanced military capability, the current version of the Taliban government poses a significant threat to the United States, ”the lawmakers wrote.

The Taliban’s appointment last week of Haqqani, wanted by the FBI for murdering US citizens, raised eyebrows in the international community, as the Taliban have sought to paint a more polished picture since taking power in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration said it did not intend to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan in the near future, despite coordinating with the group during the evacuation of US citizens and refugees. Afghans.

Yet such a designation could complicate international decisions on whether to lift sanctions to extend humanitarian aid to Afghanistan – one of America’s few sources of influence over the group.

Lawmakers say they are not convinced by the Taliban’s promises to govern in a manner that meets international standards.

“Even when the administration concluded the withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan, we saw public attacks on individuals, beatings of women and girls, and search teams actively pursuing allies and partners, ”the lawmakers wrote.

“Most worrying for us is that among those beaten and pursued by the Taliban forces were American citizens and their families still living in Afghanistan,” they wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Representative Mike Waltz of Florida, both introduced resolutions Tuesday to designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization.

“If this administration is to regain any credibility from the disaster it created in Afghanistan, it must take the step to officially designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization,” Waltz said in a statement.

The calls from lawmakers come just a week after the Taliban formed their interim government following the US withdrawal in late August.

The letter follows Mr Blinken’s two days of testimony before the House and Senate panels, marking the first in a series of review hearings on the withdrawal.

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