A senior al-Qaeda member recently celebrated what he described as America’s “defeat” in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban, the Long War Journal (LWJ) reported late this week.
Asim Umar, a senior official with the South Asia-based al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), reportedly hailed the Taliban’s “victory” in Afghanistan, arguing that it proves America’s “superior technology is no match for the jihadists’ faith, adding that America’s army no longer wants to fight.”
On June 13, LWJ, a component of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think-tank in Washington, DC, reported that Umar released his new message to celebrate the Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday that marked the end of Ramadan early this month.
Breitbart News determined that the Taliban was the most prolific and deadliest group during Ramadan this year, killing 369 people and wounding 389 others in at least 75 attacks, surpassing the barbarity of all other groups including the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda.
LWJ quotes Umar as saying in his new message:
May Allah make the victories of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Taliban] a source of bringing back the honor and dignity of the Ummah [Muslims community]. We on behalf of the sub-continent … give congratulations for these victories to Amir-ul-Momineen, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leaders of the Mujahidin and the Mujahidin present in the fields of Jihad all-around the world.
Akhundzada is the Taliban’s emir.
“Both the Taliban and al Qaeda refer to Akhundzada as the ‘Amir-ul-Momineen,’ or the ‘Amir of the Faithful,’ a title usually reserved for a Muslim caliph,” LWJ noted.
Umar goes on to accuse former U.S. President George W. Bush of declaring war on the all Muslims across the world in the wake of the “heroic attacks of September 11.”
Relying on anti-Semitic conspiracies, he portrays the U.S. as being under the control of the Jews.
Conceding that a military victory is unattainable at this juncture, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has intensified peace negotiations with the Taliban, making the political reconciliation between Kabul and the terrorist group the primary tenet of its strategy to end the war — raging since October 2001.
“Today, after 18 years, the promise of Allah” has been kept, Umar proclaims.
Whereas the United States once threatened war, it is now “begging for ceasefire,” the AQIS official also says, adding:
The victory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Taliban] is glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah, as Allah Almighty has exhausted its biggest enemy through these Jihadi assaults to the extent that the Super power’s army has refused to fight anymore.
[The] American defeat and victory of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan is victory of the whole Umma. For the weak and oppressed these are the glad tidings of a new beginning.
So far, the ongoing negotiations have yielded some draft agreements, mainly the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for Taliban assurances that it will no longer harbor al-Qaeda or allow other international terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) to operate on Afghan soil.
The Taliban has actually stepped up its attacks amid the peace negotiations.
Although the Pentagon argued late last year that the Taliban is distancing itself from al-Qaeda, LWJ and U.S. government assessments argue otherwise.
“There is no evidence of strategic ties between the two organizations, and the Taliban likely seeks to maintain distance from al-Qa’ida,” the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reported in December 2018.
Citing U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), the office of the inspector general (OIG) for DOD, however, noted on May 17:
USFOR-A assessed that al Qaeda poses “a limited, indirect threat” to U.S. and allied forces through the support it provides for Taliban and Haqqani Network attacks. Specifically, al Qaeda runs training camps, helps plan and fund attacks, and creates and disseminates propaganda highlighting attacks by other groups. … Al Qaeda remains dependent on the Taliban for safe haven, facilitation routes, and supply networks, according to USFOR-A’s assessment.
According to the Pentagon, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the highest concentration (about 20) of terrorist groups in the world, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and ISIS.
The Taliban remains the most prominent with “20,000 to 30,000 fighters” plus “an additional 10,000-25,000 fighters [who] periodically join the Taliban for attacks, though only a portion of them are fighting at any given time,” the DOD inspector general found.
“USFOR-A estimated, with low confidence, that there are as many as 5,000 ISIS-K fighters and 300 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan,” it added.
Echoing other assessments, the United Nations noted in January that more than 17 years after the heinous 9/11 attack on the American homeland carried out by al-Qaeda and facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, the relationship between the two groups remains “long-standing” and “strong.”
Umar lambasts ISIS for undermining the Taliban and “weakening the global jihad in the name of jihad and Caliphate.”
Since ISIS established a presence in Afghanistan in January 2015, the group has been fighting the Taliban for power and influence. U.S. military officials believe ISIS in Afghanistan is preparing to attack the United States.