Kabul: With the formal withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan started on May 1, the Al-Qaeda has warned Washington of war against all its fronts.
Speaking to CNN media via an intermediary, the terrorist group said that their “war against the US will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world”. US President Joe Biden on April 14 had announced an extension to the May 1 deadline set as per the Doha agreement for foreign troop pullout to September 11. The Taliban had warned of serious consequences stating that the extension was a violation of the agreement.
One of the spokespersons of Al-Qaeda even praised the Taliban for fighting the US over the past 19 years, suggesting that “thanks to Afghans for the protection of comrades-in-arms, many such jihadi fronts have been successfully operating in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time”. The Taliban has denied any links with Al-Qaeda over all formal platforms.
This comes even as the United States is now formally ending the longest war, it has fought, on Saturday, by beginning to pullout its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan. The skies above Kabul and nearby Bagram airbase have been buzzing with more US helicopter activity than usual as the pullout gears up, following the start of a concurrent NATO withdrawal. The US has deployed four B-52 bombers, an aircraft carrier and additional troops on ground in order to ensure safety of the troops withdrawing from the country.
Biden’s sudden announcement of the new timeline has raised many eyebrows with security experts stating that a hasty withdrawal could lead the war-ravaged country into civil war. Biden, according to reports, also rejected his top-most generals’ advice to keep in a residual force in Afghanistan for protection, which former veterans say is a bad choice as there is a chance that Taliban could take over the reign of the country. The latest to criticize Biden was Hillary Clinton, who on Friday, said that she was concerned about the potential fallout for the Afghan people, especially women, if the Taliban were to come back into power. She called it a “wicked problem” and said Biden “made the decision that he thought was the right decision.”
The US withdrawal deal was struck in Doha, the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but insurgents have mercilessly attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a terror campaign in urban areas. There have been clashes and counter-clashes between the Afghan government and the Taliban over the past months, killing many civilians. Violence, too, across the country still remains a grim issue even as we witness incidents like late Friday night wherein with a car bomb in Pul-e-Alam, south of the capital, killed at least 21 people and wounding over 90.
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The United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 after the Taliban refused to hand Osama Bin Laden over to Washington, claiming the US had failed to present it with evidence of bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11, and the terror leader himself initially denying responsibility. The leader claimed full responsibility for the attacks in a 2004 video.
Meanwhile, there have also been unconfirmed reports that Taliban insurgents have been protected western military bases in Afghanistan from attacks by rival, or rogue Islamist groups for over a year under a secret annex to a pact for the withdrawal of all US forces by May 1, three Western officials with knowledge of the agreement told Reuters.
The US State Department gave no immediate response to Reuters over the existence of any such document. Nor did it have any immediate comment on what the three officials described as a “Taliban ring of protection”.
Since the United States struck a deal with the Taliban in February 29, 2020, paving the way for America to end its longest war, there have been no US combat deaths, and there have been only isolated attacks on US bases.