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Taliban ‘strongly condemn’ US drone attack on top al-Qaeda boss

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Monday evening “strongly condemning” a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which leftist President Joe Biden said killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Reports citing US intelligence officials say al-Zawahiri, who took over the organization after the US government eliminated his predecessor Osama bin Laden, was living openly and comfortably in Kabul after the US-backed government abandoned the country to the Taliban.

Biden announced in an evening speech Monday that a US airstrike killed al-Zawahiri with no civilian casualties — a stark contrast to Biden’s airstrike that killed ten Afghan civilians last year, including children, without any benefit to national security.

Taliban officials had agreed, as part of a deal with former President Donald Trump’s government, to cut all ties with al-Qaeda and other jihadist terror groups in exchange for Washington withdrawing all its troops. and end the two-decade-old Afghan war. Biden broke that deal last year, missing the May 1, 2021 deadline agreed to by both sides and extending the war until August.

The Taliban called Biden’s extension of the war in Afghanistan a violation of the agreement negotiated with Trump in Doha, Qatar, and used it to launch a campaign of conquest that culminated in the capture of Kabul on 15 August 2022 – which, of course, also violated the agreement. Mujahid (pictured, top), the spokesman, later falsely claimed the Taliban had never agreed to cut ties with al-Qaeda.

“Nowhere in the agreement is it mentioned that we are or are not related to anyone,” he alleged.

Although Biden breached the agreement last year, Mujahid complained on Monday that the strike that eliminated al-Zawahiri was a breach of the Doha accord.

Mujahid’s statement first confirmed that a US airstrike had taken place in Kabul.

“The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban’s] security and intelligence agencies investigated the incident and in their preliminary investigations found that the attack was carried out by US drones,” the statement said.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns this attack for any reason and calls it a flagrant violation of international principles and the Doha agreement,” Mujahid wrote. “Such actions are a repeat of the failed experiments of the past 20 years and run counter to the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region. Repeating such actions will damage the available opportunities.

Mujahid notably failed to mention al-Qaeda or Ayman al-Zawahiri in his sentencing.

Similarly, Biden did not mention the Taliban at all in his Monday night speech announcing al-Zawahiri’s death.

Biden claimed the al-Qaeda leader had “moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with immediate family members,” without giving further details. The president instead focused on al-Zawahiri’s biographical information and warned: “No matter how long it takes – no matter where you are hiding – if you are a threat to our people, the United States will will find and eliminate you”.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a press conference on February 27, 2022. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden pointed out “none of his [al-Zawahiri’s] family members were injured and there were no civilian casualties.

The president also claimed the elimination of al-Qaeda’s top target, for which US officials were offering a $25 million reward, showed the wisdom of Biden’s chaotic plan to prolong the war in Afghanistan, end the war. agreement negotiated by Trump with the Taliban and abruptly leaving the country in the hands of the Taliban.

“When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan nearly a year ago, I made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to harm us,” Biden said. “We will never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists.”

The circumstances surrounding al-Zawahiri’s life in Kabul suggest that the Taliban were both aware of his presence and protective of him. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) newspaper The National reported on Tuesday that al-Zawahiri lived in an upscale neighborhood of Kabul and “regularly appeared out in the open, on his balcony”, apparently unconcerned about being identified.

“The Taliban have been accused of harboring extremists for years. They denied it over and over again,” NPR reporter Steve Inskeep explained in a Monday report from the Afghan capital, “But it was in a very heavily secured area of ​​the city with checkpoints everywhere and very near government departments.”

A United Nations report released two weeks ago confirmed that al-Zawahiri was alive and “probably operating in Afghanistan”.

“Member States note that al-Zawahiri’s apparently increased comfort and ability to communicate coincided with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the consolidation of power by key [Al Qaeda] allies within their de facto administration,” observed the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

Taliban ‘strongly condemn’ US drone attack on top al-Qaeda boss

File/As seen on a computer screen from a DVD prepared by Al-Sahab production, al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahri speaks in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 20, 2006. (AP Photo/BKBangash, File)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby conceded in an interview with MSNBC on Monday that “senior leaders of the Haqqani Network,” a terrorist entity with “government” positions in the Taliban that serves as group’s liaison with al-Qaeda proper, “knew” where al-Zawahiri was.

Biden’s State Department bizarrely attempted to assert shortly after the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year that the Haqqani network and the Taliban were “separate entities,” even as several members of the Haqqani family held senior positions in the Taliban leadership.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani network, published an opinion piece in the New York Times last year titled “What We Taliban Want”.

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