The latest: Ahmad Massoud, leader of Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front (NRF), in an interview has said that Afghanistan is becoming a safe haven for trans-national terrorist groups and such groups are flourishing in the country. This statement comes at a time when the US State Department has warned that if international terrorists regroup in Afghanistan, they will take severe action.
- In an interview with the US-based Hudson Foundation, Massoud said this information comes directly from arms dealers in the country who are selling weapons to these groups.
- “More than 20 regional terrorist groups exist in Afghanistan. Earlier, the NRF was buying it from the Taliban; the corruption already exists in the Taliban ranks as well and we were buying it from them; we were buying it from a lot of other groups which actually managed to get their hands on American equipment. We were the main and the dominant buyers but we are a very tiny one, or we are probably one of the smallest buyers right now.”
- He said there is currently a huge demand for weapons, and prices are “very high”. In fact, prices were now “too expensive” for the NRF whereas last year, it was a very different scenario.
- Massoud said that when speaking to these arms dealers, they are told that prices have escalated due to demand. He said there are many terrorist groups buying weapons “right now” including the likes of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Jaish ul-Adl and Ansarullah.
Why it matters? This revelation by Massoud comes at a time when the US State Department warned of action if international terrorists regroup in Afghanistan, fearing the Taliban-ruled country may become a haven for militants again.
- The Taliban failed to live up to their commitments in counterterrorism as well, the spokesperson said. “We also have capabilities when it comes to counterterrorism in the region that does not leave us entirely beholden to the Taliban. We will make good on the pledge that President Biden made since the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan last year, that we will take action if we see international terrorists regrouping in Afghanistan.”
- Ned Price added that the broader goal of the US is to ensure that terrorists and others aren’t able to use Afghanistan as a launch pad for attacks on Pakistan. He said that the US is willing to work with regional partners, including Pakistan to stop such terror groups, even the TTP.
- Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leader is said to be in Afghanistan, has ordered its forces to attack targets across Pakistan.
Zoom out: However, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior Affairs in a press conference in Kabul denied the presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
- The spokesman for the ministry, Abdul Nafay Takor, said that terrorist groups are not present in Afghanistan and there is no threat to other countries. The spokesman for the ministry added there is no cultivation of crops for illicit drugs anywhere in Afghanistan, and they will not allow such cultivation.
- The Taliban’s Minister of Interior Affairs added that Afghanistan more than ever is secure now that terrorist groups do not exist in the country, and they pledged to provide security throughout the country.
- “The current security of Afghanistan has not been the same as in the past forty, fifty, or sixty years, Afghanistan was not secure like today ever,” said Takor.