David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote that "al-Qaeda’s submission has been overseen by the Taliban."
“Having won power in Kabul, the Taliban has sheltered al-Qaeda but suppressed any foreign operations — and it has attacked ISIS-K as a mortal threat to its rule,” he said.
"The Taliban’s unlikely role as a counterterrorism partner is a matter of self-interest for the mullahs," he said.
“Part of the bargain for the US withdrawal from Kabul was that the Taliban would stop al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a platform for foreign operations. US officials say they have generally lived up to that commitment,” Ignatius wrote.
He cited a declassified intelligence report, which said that the “Taliban has intensified [counterterror] operations this year, which prompted some ISIS-K leaders to relocate to outside of Afghanistan” and “Taliban raids in Afghanistan have removed at least eight key ISIS-K leaders."
Ignatius quoted senior administration officials as saying the CIA shares counterterrorism information with the Islamic Emirate, but not targeting data or “actionable intelligence.”
He wrote that the American officials describe other policies of "the Taliban" including their "harsh repression of women and girls," as “appalling” but in containing terrorist groups that “challenge the mullahs, an implicit alliance of convenience continues.”
“We’re lucky, our interest and the Taliban’s interest align,” said Michael Leiter, a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, in an interview quoted in the piece.
Ignatius quoted Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA case officer who served in Afghanistan as saying: “This may work for a very short period of time when our narrow interests converge, but I would not bet the safety of the American people on a medieval Islamic fundamentalist group with an extraordinary amount of American blood on their hands.”
Ignatius said that Afghanistan is one of those places that recalls the saying:
“It’s not over until it’s over — and even then, it’s not over.”
But he added that when the US intelligence community says al-Qaeda has reached a “nadir” there, it’s worth notice — and reflection on the tangled process that brought about its expiration.