A new report by a UN monitoring team says that the Taliban and Al Qaeda “remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties.”
The UN report says that UN member states “report no material change to this relationship, which has grown deeper as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.”
Long War Journal said that other findings by the UN are consistent with previous analyses prepared by the UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, however, the most recent report cites new intelligence as well.
One claim noted by analysts is that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy emir of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is also a member of Al Qaeda’s leadership.
“If the terrorism threat rises once again in Afghanistan or if a threat emerges to US national security from Afghanistan, in that case we want to have forces in the region to respond--to defend US national security and show a reaction,” US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in an interview with TOLOnews on Monday.
This intelligence information was cited in a footnote, which states that in addition to being a Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani “is also assessed to be a member of the wider Al Qaeda leadership, but not of the Al Qaeda core leadership (the Hattin Shura),” the Long War Journal noted.
The UN report does not make it clear what position Sirajuddin is thought to hold within Al Qaeda’s “wider" leadership, said the Long War Journal.
“Al Qaeda threats will not be the same as in 2001 for few years ahead,” former interior minister Gen. Massoud Andarabi said.
The Taliban did not comment on TOLOnews' questions about the claims, but previously they have rejected reports by UN monitoring teams.
“I think a (shared) interest would be in ... war affairs, or Afghanistan affairs or in fighting foreigners. I don’t think (the two groups) are united with these,” said former Taliban commander Akbar Agha.
In 2019, the Al Qaeda leader in a message mentioned Sirajuddin Haqqani and Hibatullah Akhundzada as “our leaders from the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan” and expressed gratitude for the selection of Haqqani as the deputy leader of the Taliban.