Taliban declare they unaware of al-Qaida chief in Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD — The Taliban broke its silence Thursday, days after a U.S. drone strike killing al-Qaida’s prime chief in Afghanistan’s capital, acknowledging his slaying and pledging to launch an investigation.

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahri on the balcony of a Kabul safehouse Sunday has additional strained relations between the Taliban and the West, notably because it seeks an pressing infusion of money to deal with an financial disaster there following the U.S. withdrawal from the nation a yr in the past.

“The government and the leadership weren’t aware of what is being claimed, nor any trace there,” Suhail Shaheen, the top of the group’s political workplace in Doha, Qatar, advised The Related Press in a textual content message.

That declare, nevertheless, straight conflicts with what U.S. officers have mentioned concerning the strike. They are saying al-Zawahri was staying on the house of a prime aide to senior Taliban chief Sirajuddin Haqqani. Haqqani is the deputy head of the Taliban, serves as inside minister in its authorities and heads the Haqqani community, a robust faction inside the motion.

The Taliban had promised within the 2020 Doha Settlement with the U.S. that they might not harbor al-Qaida members or these searching for to assault the U.S.

An “investigation is underway now to find out about veracity of the claim. The leadership is in constant meeting in this regard. Findings will be shared with all,” Shaheen added.

The strike early Sunday shook awake Shirpur, as soon as a district of historic buildings that had been bulldozed in 2003 to make manner for luxurious properties for officers in Afghanistan’s Western-backed authorities and worldwide support organizations. After the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, senior Taliban moved into among the deserted properties there.

The Haqqani community is an Afghan Islamic rebel group, constructed across the household of the identical identify. Within the Eighties, it fought Soviet forces and over the previous 20 years, it battled U.S.-led NATO troops and the previous Afghanistan authorities. The U.S. authorities maintains a $10 million bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani for assaults on American troops and Afghan civilians.

However the Haqqanis, from Afghanistan’s jap Khost province, have rivals inside the Taliban management, largely from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Some imagine Sirajuddin Haqqani needs extra energy. Different Taliban figures have opposed the Haqqanis’ assaults in opposition to civilians in Kabul and elsewhere through the insurgency.

Throughout the first half of 2022, al-Zawahri more and more reached out to supporters with video and audio messages, together with assurances that al-Qaida can compete with the Islamic State group for management of a worldwide motion, a report by the United Nations’ Analytical Assist and Sanctions Monitoring Staff mentioned.

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