Taliban break silence over Al Qaeda leader’s killing, vows investigation

63
3
Taliban break silence over Al Qaeda leader’s killing, vows investigation

The Taliban have broken their silence over a U.S. drone strike that killed Al Qaeda's top leader in Afghanistan s capital, acknowledging his death and vowing to launch an investigation.

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahri on Sunday has further strained relations between the Taliban and the West, particularly as it seeks an urgent infusion of cash to deal with an economic crisis there after the U.S. withdrawal a year ago.

Suhail Shaheen, head of the group's political office in Doha, Qatar, told the government and leadership that they weren't aware of what was being claimed, nor any trace there.

In a separate statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group was not aware that Al Qaeda was living in a house in Kabul.

Mujahid said that we didn't have any information about his arrival and living in the house.

He said that the incident would be thoroughly investigated and there was no threat to the US and other countries from Afghan soil. The claims are directly in line with what U.S. officials have said about the strike. They said that al-Zawahri was staying at the home of a top aide to the senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Haqqani is the deputy head of the Taliban, serves as the interior minister in its government and heads the Haqqani network, a powerful faction within the movement.

The Taliban had promised in the 2020 Doha Agreement with the U.S. that they would not harbor Al Qaeda members or those seeking to attack the U.S.

An investigation is ongoing to find out about the validity of the claim. The leadership is in constant meeting in this regard. Shaheen said that findings will be shared with all.

The strike early on Sunday shook Shirpur, a district of historic buildings that were bulldozed in 2003 to make way for luxury homes for officials in Afghanistan's western backed government and international aid organisations.

Senior Taliban moved into some of the abandoned homes after the U.S. withdrawal last August.

The Haqqani network is an Afghan Islamic insurgent group built around the family of the same name.

It fought Soviet forces in the 1980s and over the past 20 years fought the U.S.-managed NATO troops and the former Afghanistan government.

The U.S. government has $10 million in bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani for attacks on American troops and Afghan civilians.

The Haqqanis, who are from Afghanistan's eastern Khost province, have rivals within the Taliban leadership, mostly from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

Some believe that Haqqani wants more power. Other Taliban figures have opposed the Haqqanis attacks on civilians in Kabul and elsewhere during the insurgency.

Al Qaeda reached out to supporters with video and audio messages, including assurances that Al Qaeda could compete with the so-called Islamic State group for leadership of a global movement, according to a report from the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.