Al-Qaeda ‘Gaining Strength’ in Afghanistan: US Treasury

The US Treasury Department has issued a memo stating al-Qaeda is “gaining strength” in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s “protection”.

In answer to inquiries from the US Department of Defense’s Lead Inspector General on illicit terrorism financing, the US Treasury Deparment said that despite the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year that calls for the Taliban to cut ties with al-Qaeda, the two groups were still closely allied.

“As of 2020, al-Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under the Taliban’s protection.
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Al-Qaeda broadly still depends on donations from like minded supporters, and from individuals who believe that their money is supporting humanitarian or charitable causes,” the report reads.

“Al-Qaeda capitalizes on its relationship with the Taliban through its network of mentors and advisers who are embedded with the Taliban, providing advice, guidance, and financial support.”

“Senior Haqqani Network figures have discussed forming a new joint unit of armed fighters in cooperation with and funded by al-Qaeda,” the report stated.

The report also stated that elements of al-Qaeda, including affiliate al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and terrorist groups targeting Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), continue to use the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region as a safe haven.”

“AQIS likely receives funding from al-Qaeda senior leadership,” the report stated adding that “as of May 2020, the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintained a strong relationship and continued to meet regularly.”

On the state of ISIS-Khorasan’s (Daesh Afghanistan) finances, the treasury report stated “ISIS-K primarily raises funds through local donations, taxation, extortion, and some financial support from ISIS-core.”

“In 2019, Afghan Taliban and Afghan government forces retook ISIS-K’s stronghold in southern Nangarhar, which decreases the amount of money the group could earn exploiting natural resources in this territory.

“As of early 2020, ISIS core was possibly providing some funds to ISIS-K. According to Treasury’s information, ISIS-K retains at least some financial reserves and relies on hawalas, particularly in Kabul and Jalalabad, to transfer funds,” the report added.

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