Al-Qaeda Established 8 New Training Camps in Afghanistan, Reports UNSC

Wednesday, 01/31/2024

In a recent report, the UN Security Council revealed that the Taliban has maintained its ties with Al-Qaeda and that the terror group has established eight new training camps in Afghanistan.

Four al-Qaeda camps have been established in Ghazni, Laghman, Parwan and Uruzgan provinces. Additionally, it has established a weapons depot in Panjshir.

Taliban's Close Ties With Al-Qaeda

In its report, the Security Council has stated that the relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda is still close, and this terrorist organisation has managed to maintain itself in a "sustainable" mode in Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban.

According to the report, senior Al-Qaeda officials are present in Afghanistan and it is still a threat to the country and beyond.

The UN Security Council reported that the Taliban is trying to make sure that its ties with the Al-Qaeda are not detectable. It has stated that some operational commanders of the Taliban have a common working method and ideology with the Al-Qaeda, however, they do not have the global ambitions of the group.

The Security Council wrote that the efforts of the Taliban to limit some activities of Al-Qaeda have led to differences between these two groups.

However, the report states that the remaining and old members of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan are not capable of planning and organising large-scale attacks. A member of the security council said that the number of senior Al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan who have historical ties to the Taliban is less than ten.

The report also states that several member countries of the Security Council spoke about people who are said to have travelled to communicate between Saif al-Adel, the leader of al-Qaeda, "based in Iran", and its other senior members in Afghanistan, including Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi. However, one UN Security Council member state has denied the presence of Al-Qaeda members in Iran.

The report also states that six Al-Qaeda members have been transferred to eastern Afghanistan to join “Katiba Umer Farooq” unit under the leadership of "Abu Ikhlas al-Masri".

Eight New Training Camps

The UN Security Council reported that Al-Qaeda has established eight new training camps in Afghanistan.

According to this report, four al-Qaeda camps have been established in Ghazni, Laghman, Parwan and Uruzgan provinces, and it has also established a new weapons depot in Panjshir province.

According to the report, Hakim al-Masri, an Al-Qaeda member, is in charge of training camps and also provides instructions on suicide bombings to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members in Kunar province.

The Security Council also wrote that five Al-Qaeda madrassas operate in Laghman, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Parwan provinces. Al-Qaeda also has facilities in Helmand, Herat, Farah and Kabul provinces.

TTP Receives Aid Packages From Afghan Taliban

The United Nations Security Council reported that several attacks by TTP have been supported from Afghanistan.

The report also stated that a number of TTP commanders and their families receive regular aid packages from the Taliban.

As per the report, the TTP has seen a rise in the number of Taliban members joining its ranks. According to the report, some Afghan Taliban members view supporting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban as their "religious duty”.

The report states that the Afghan Taliban group is generally aligned with the goals of the TTP.

The Security Council noted that, aside from supplying equipment and weapons to the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda has also played a role in training the group's forces for overseas operations.

The report states that the short-term detention of 70 to 200 members of the TTP by the Afghan Taliban and their relocation in northern Afghanistan was done to divert pressure from Islamabad.

As per the report, the TTP, alongside its anti-Pakistan activities, has also carried out assassinations of Taliban members who joined ISIS in Khorasan.

ISIS Threats

According to the Security Council report, despite territorial losses, casualties, and the decrease of forces, including key leaders, ISIS remains a significant threat to Afghanistan and the broader region.

The primary target of ISIS in Afghanistan is the Shia community. Taliban comes in the second place.

The Security Council reported a decrease in ISIS attacks due to Taliban pressure and their influence on ISIS. However, there are indications of considerable influence from ISIS within the Taliban.

The report states that despite the Taliban's claim of defeating ISIS, the group continues its attacks in Afghanistan.

The Security Council report also highlighted a divergence of opinions within the Taliban leadership regarding how to address ISIS. According to the report, ISIS has implemented a more inclusive strategy by welcoming non-Salafi forces, recruiting disillusioned Taliban fighters, and foreign combatants.

Contrary to earlier reports from some Pakistani media outlets, the Security Council has confirmed that Sanaullah Ghafari, also known as "Shahab al-Muhajir," the leader of the Khorasan branch of ISIS, is alive. The Taliban also did not confirm the reported killing of Ghafari at that time.

Several Security Council member states reported that the leader of ISIS' Khorasan branch was targeted and wounded, possibly while leaving the Jamaat al-Ahrar training centre in Kunar.

Other groups

The Security Council report indicated that groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, and Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari remain active in Afghanistan. Additionally, the Jamaat Ansarullah group receives funding from both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

As per the report, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement has relocated from Badakhshan to settle in Baghlan province, with its operational network expanding into several other provinces.

According to the report, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement primarily focuses on training reserve forces and recruiting women. Security Council member states have expressed concern about its collaboration with other terrorist groups, including the TTP, in recruiting troops, training, and planning operations.

The report notes that Al-Qaeda provides ideological training to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Additionally, ISIS has recruited some of its forces by exploiting dissatisfaction with perceived restrictions imposed by the Taliban.

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