The son of slain terrorist Osama bin Laden went to Afghanistan and held meetings with the Taliban in October 2021, according to a new report by the United Nations. Further, the report says that there are no signs that the Taliban have taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorists in Afghanistan. In fact, terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom in Afghanistan today than at any other time in recent history, the report says.
The 29th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations Security Council was made public this week. The UN prepares these reports twice a year in an effort to strengthen implementation of sanctions on militant groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
The UN report has addressed the security situation in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries following the takeover of the nation by militant group Taliban in August 2021.
As per the report, the links between the al-Qaeda and Taliban are clear. For example, Amin Muhammad ul-Haq Saam Khan, who coordinated security for Osama bin Laden, returned to his home in Afghanistan in late August.
However, the al-Qaeda has maintained a “strategic silence” on the Taliban, most probably in an effort not to compromise the Taliban’s aim of gaining international legitimacy. Hence, after its first statement congratulating the Taliban on its ‘victory’, al-Qaeda has not said much.
The UN report states that the al-Qaeda, at the moment, lacks the capability to conduct “high-profile attacks overseas”.
The al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is led by Osama Mehmood and has between 200-400 fighters from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Pakistan, the report says. The group fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The UN report estimates that the strength of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Khorasan (ISIL-K) has risen from earlier estimates of 2,200 to nearly 4,000, following the release of several thousand prisoners.
This group controls limited territory in eastern Afghanistan and is capable of conducting high-profile and complex attacks, the report says.
“The group aims to position itself as the chief rejectionist force in Afghanistan, with a wider regional agenda threatening neighbouring Central and South Asian countries,” the report adds.