His name and that of his terrorist network, al-Qaeda, have come to define an era of American reaction and retribution eclipsing any previous anti-terrorism policies.
The US “war on terror” is about to enter a new phase as President Joe Biden prepares to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of September 11, but now al -Qaida claims its war with America is far from over.
In an exclusive interview with CNN conducted by intermediaries, two Al Qaeda operatives told CNN that “the war against the United States will continue on all other fronts unless it is kicked out from the rest of the world. Islamic”.
In the past, Al Qaeda has rarely answered questions, choosing instead to hide behind its own self-serving propaganda, avoiding even the most distant scrutiny. It is not known why the group chose to do so now.
Terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, editor-in-chief of the West Point CTC Sentinel, who reviewed Al Qaeda’s responses, says it is possible “they may feel supported by the decision of the Biden administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but they may also be looking to deflect attention from the many recent casualties. “
America’s longest war will end
Today, the terrorist group that has captured the world’s attention is reduced to a whimper, but it is far from dead. And now says he plans a comeback after US forces leave Afghanistan, again associating with the Taliban.
In their response to CNN, two members of Al Qaeda’s subcontinent broadcasting arm praise the Taliban for keeping the struggle against America alive. “Thanks to the Afghans for the protection of their comrades in arms, many of these jihadist fronts have been operating successfully in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time,” the spokesperson said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed, telling ABC’s “This Week” earlier this month: “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, and we went there because we were attacked. on September 11, and we went to pick up those who attacked us on September 11, and to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a haven for terrorism directed against the United States or any of our allies and partners, “Blinken said.” And we achieved the goals we set for ourselves. ”
Through journalistic intermediaries, Saleem Mehsud, a CNN member, contacted Al Qaeda for his reaction to Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and rather than ignore it as he did. so many times in the past, the representatives responded.
Their response suggests that the Taliban are less than honest with the Biden administration and that the withdrawal of US troops could be based on a sham.
CNN reached out to the Taliban for comment on its relationship with Al Qaeda, but did not respond, giving Al Qaeda’s response to CNN significant insight into what might happen after the troops withdraw American.
Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism expert and author of several books on Osama Bin Laden, read Al Qaeda’s response to CNN and deemed it “genuine”.
Bergen points to another part of Al Qaeda’s response highlighting continued ties with the Taliban, in which he said: “At the same time, the TTP [Pakistani Taliban] and AQ have Islamic brotherhood relations that were and still remain intact and the same is true with the Afghan Taliban. “
He notes: “This confirms what the UN has said that” the Taliban have regularly consulted “al-Qaeda in its negotiations with the United States while ensuring that they” will honor their historic ties “with the terrorist group. “
Somewhat ambiguously, al-Qaeda also does not claim to use Afghanistan itself as a springboard for future attacks because it no longer needs it. “He didn’t need Afghanistan and there is no such intention in the future,” the group said. However, as Cruickshank points out, “a declaration of intent from an anonymous agent hardly binds the group.”
Terrorist group eclipsed by Daesh
In its response to CNN, al-Qaeda declares Afghanistan its victory. “The Americans are now defeated” and draw a parallel with the withdrawal of the Soviet Union three decades ago from the country and its subsequent collapse: “The American war in Afghanistan played a key role in the strike. American economy. ”
This line echoes the rhetoric of Bin Laden himself, who promoted the oversimplified idea that the Soviets have gone bankrupt in Afghanistan. The cost of the US wars on terrorism has run into the trillions, but the 9/11 attacks did not cause the US economic collapse. Al Qaeda admits the toll the war has taken on them, saying it has sent “most” of Al Qaeda’s central fighters to Syria where “some of them have been martyred in recent years.”
He also admits that Bin Laden’s death at the hands of Seal Team 6 weakened Al Qaeda, allowing the more nihilistic Islamists, ISIS (Daesh), to take hold. “They have benefited from the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama, Sheikh Atiyahullah, Sheikh Abu Yahya Al-Libi (God have mercy on them) and many others.”
In recent years, the atrocities and attacks by ISIS it inspired in Europe have all but eclipsed Al Qaeda. But the latter presents this as “tactical silence”, claiming that it is not “broken” and that it “is waging a long war” with “different stages”.
Bergen says: “This corresponds to the [bin Laden] documents in Abbottabad in which QA executives treat TTP as a junior partner with whom they can lead (even though AQ is a small organization and TTP a large, relatively speaking). “
“But make no mistake – the terrorist threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will remain vigilant against threats against the United States, wherever they may come from. Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East and beyond. “
Afghanistan could be free again for al-Qaeda
Today, Al Qaeda seems proud of its influence over the TTP. “Today, the Pakistani Taliban organization and their leaders are not only advancing in the light of Sharia law, but also making better decisions based on past experiences and recent successes have been made possible by the same unity and the same adherence to sharia and wisdom.
It is unclear whether this is a reference to the TTP’s first major assault in several years in which it hit a hotel where the Chinese ambassador is said to have stayed in Quetta last week. Pakistani security officials told CNN that the Chinese ambassador was not the target, but it nonetheless underscores that al Qaeda is gaining strength.
If the Taliban are as close to Al Qaeda as this group claims, and the UN assesses it, then QA’s 2,000-word communication with CNN implies that instead of being ceasefire partners On fire with the United States, the Taliban are also close to encouraging Al-Qaeda in the war against America. like never.
Al Qaeda makes it clear that the country that was once its base for planning the deadliest attack ever on US soil is free to use it again. “The United States is not a problem for our Afghan brethren, but because of the sacrifices in the Afghan war, the Americans are now defeated. Whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats – both made the final decision to withdraw. of the Afghan war. “
If the Taliban keep their promises to Biden, then this is all al Qaeda propaganda, but if not, all bets on the future threat he poses are off.
This story has been updated.