Al Qaeda Operates in 18 Afghan Provinces: Report

Al Qaeda and its regional affiliate, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, continue to operate across Afghanistan despite repeated Taliban claims by the Taliban that the group is no longer present in the country, according to a report by Long War Journal.

Based on the report, al Qaeda and other groups associated with it have been involved in perpetrating dozens of attacks across Afghanistan following the US-Taliban peace agreement last February.

“Al Qaeda’s enduring presence in Afghanistan is visible both through press reporting on Coalition operations against the terror group, and Thabat, al Qaeda’s own media arm that has noted the groups operate in 18 provinces,” said the report.

The report states that Thabat, a weekly Al Qaeda newsletter that covers its operations across the globe and is analogous to Daesh’s Al Naba news service, has noted multiple reports of Al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan.

“Afghan press reports from Sept. 2020 to present confirm that al Qaeda and its allies are operating in seven of the provinces noted by Thabat,” according to the report by Long War Journal.

Badakhshan, Balkh, Faryab, Farah, Ghazni, Helmand, Jawzjan, Kapisa, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Takhar, Urozgan, Zabul and Khost are the among those provinces where Al Qaeda has continues its foothold.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Defense also confirmed that Taliban still has ties with al Qaeda despite its commitments to US to severe ties with all militant groups in Afghanistan, including al Qaeda.

“Relations between al Qaeda and the Taliban have been so close. Our security forces have targeted key al Qaeda members in various regions,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

Afghan authorities said that they have conducted an operation against al Qaeda in Paktika province.

“The terrorists are present there and they have close ties with international terrorist groups and are posing serious threats to the Afghan people and the entire world,” said Zakaria Sawda, the governor of Badakhshan.

“Our security forces have seen foreigners who are helping them (Taliban). Al Qaeda is also present there and is helping the Taliban in the fight and planting landmines,” said Jamal Barakzai, a spokesman for Kandahar police headquarters.

“They see their strength in their unity with religious extremists like al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups,” said military analyst Mohammad Ishaq Rahguzar.

The UN sanctions committee has previously estimated the number of al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan 400 to 600.

Taliban has denied these reports saying that the group has no ties with al Qaeda.