Taliban Rejects U.N. Report of Al-Qaeda Training Camp Boom in Afghanistan

The Taliban on Thursday rejected a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report that said al-Qaeda has established “up to eight” new training camps, plus several safe houses, in Afghanistan since President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from the country in 2021.

The UNSC report published on Monday was confident about the establishment of four new al-Qaeda camps in the Ghazni, Laghman, Parwan, and Uruzgan provinces, plus a weapons depot in Panjshir Valley and five madrassas (religious schools) for indoctrinating Afghan children.

UNSC also found al-Qaeda has safe houses in Herat, Farah, and Helmand provinces plus the national capital of Kabul, which it uses to maintain communications between al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and the organization’s leadership, which has taken shelter in Iran.

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Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawairi was killed by a U.S. drone strike while hiding in a Kabul safe house in August 2022.

The UNSC report accused the Taliban of providing protection and support for al-Qaeda, contrary to promises by Taliban leaders that they would not harbor the worldwide terrorist organization. The report also expressed concern about al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban assisting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group that has launched numerous attacks against the Pakistani government in a bid to destabilize the country.

UNSC said TTP has conducted cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan, some Afghan Taliban members have joined TTP’s ranks, and the Afghan Taliban is providing aid to the families of TTP members. Al-Qaeda fighters have joined TTP on some of these raids.

The Afghan regime has covered some of these activities by taking minimal action against the TTP to placate the Pakistani government. TTP also sought to muddy the waters by creating a splinter group called Tehrik-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), which has claimed several recent high-profile attacks on Pakistani targets. Pakistani officials say some of the TJP fighters killed by its security forces were Afghan nationals.

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UNSC said several of its member states have observed the “continued proliferation of weapons from stockpiles” of American gear left in Afghanistan by Joe Biden. Some of those weapons have appeared in the hands of TTP fighters, including advanced sniper rifles.

“The presence of al Qaeda senior figures in the country has not changed, and the group continues to pose a threat in the region and potentially beyond,” the UNSC report concluded, softening the bad news by noting that al-Qaeda currently lacks the strength to “project sophisticated attacks at long range.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the U.N. report as “propaganda” on Thursday.

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“There is no one related to Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, nor does the Islamic Emirate allow anyone to use the territory of Afghanistan against others,” he insisted.

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