Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban, said that despite the group's belief in the peace negotiation talks as one of the core components of the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, the Taliban will still continue the path of jihad (holy war) and strengthen its military power.
In a message to mark the completion of training of a group of Taliban suicide bombers at an unknown location, Haqqani said that the peace process does not mean the Taliban will abandon the path of jihad.
Footage released on the group’s social media platforms show a group of Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests who are passing in a parade in front of the Taliban’s military commission.
Messages from other top Taliban officials, including Mullah Abdullah Ghani Baradar and Mullah Yaqoub, were read out in support of the suicide squad.
“We believe that the talks are the solution, the politics of sharia (Islamic) law is one of the paths of our jihad and struggle, but no one should miscalculate our politics and willingness for talks --- they shouldn’t expect (the Taliban) to abandon jihad and their military capabilities,” said Haqqani in a message to the Taliban fighters.
“We will use our ability to further develop the strength of the military and jihadi forces of the Islamic emirate (Term used for Afghanistan by the Taliban),” said Mullah Yaqoub.
Meanwhile, a UN report released on Friday stated that the Taliban has failed to fulfill one of the core parts of the US-Taliban agreement, namely that it would break ties with al-Qaeda. The agreement was signed in February in Doha, Qatar, after months of negotiations.
According to the UN report, a new group named Hizb-e-Wilayat-e-Islami has been created outside Afghanistan which encompasses the splinter members of the Taliban who are opposing the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban.
“Whenever one part of them (Taliban) show willingness for talks, the other part starts opposing them-- like the Haqqani who vowed to continue jihad,” said Abdul Sattar Hussaini, a member of the Afghan parliament.
Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.
“The Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaeda during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties,” the report states.
Meanwhile, footage shows a large gathering of Taliban fighters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participating in the funeral ceremony of three Pakistani fighters who were killed in a battle last week with the Afghan border security forces.
“Three of our friends were martyred, one of them belonged to North Waziristan,” said one local Taliban commander in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to the UN report, the senior leadership of al-Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban.
Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda "remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage," said the report.
The report also highlights Daesh’s subversive activities in the country, saying that the UN monitoring team now estimates that Daesh numbers are as low as 2,200 in Afghanistan.