ISLAMABAD: The elimination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a recent drone strike in Kabul has raised questions about the credibility of the Afghan Taliban government on its promise not to allow its soil to be used by terrorists in addition to sparking speculation about the US tactic of launching unannounced counterterrorism operations in the region on suspicious targets.
Two weeks before the first anniversary of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the CIA fired two Hellfire missiles at 6:15 a.m. last Sunday and killed al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, on the balcony of a house in Kabul’s Sherpur locality, also known as the diplomatic quarter. His predecessor, Osama bin Laden, was killed by US Navy Seals at a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.
Several Taliban observers and sources suggest that al-Zawahiri was moved, along with his family, to the heavily guarded location of Kabul earlier this year by senior Haqqani leaders, who have marital and strategic ties to associated Arab militants. to al-Qaeda. “Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is said to have hosted the leader of al-Qaeda in the heart of Kabul. However, one cannot put the whole burden on Haqqani when it comes to maintaining relations with the terror group,” said Nazrul Islam, an Islamabad-based observer.
“We must not forget that the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omer, sacrificed his government to protect Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks,” he added.
According to local reports and sources in the border areas of Pakistan, Al-Zawahiri has remained for most of the past two decades in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan. he had survived a number of attacks from both sides of the Durand Line, the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border.
In a previous hunt for him, four CIA-operated Predator drones fired multiple Hellfire missiles at three adjacent compounds in Pakistan’s Damadola region of Bajaur tribal district in January 2006. The attack was carried out on reports that al-Zawahiri, then Al-Qaida’s second-in-command, was invited to a dinner to mark the Islamic holiday of Eidul Azha at the targeted compound. Nearly two dozen innocent people were killed in this attack, including 14 from one family.
Following US President Joe Biden’s confirmation this week of his death, Kabul called it an attack on its sovereignty while Washington said al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul was a breach of the peace accord. Doha, because the Taliban had promised that Afghan soil would not be used. against any country.
“These issues are still unclear to us, the only thing we know for sure is that a drone attack has taken place, which is against international law and the Doha agreement. Emirate policy Islam, which has been repeatedly declared to the people, is that our soil not be used against our neighbours,” Abdul Salam Hanafi, second deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate, said on Tuesday.
Afghan analysts, however, said the latest attack could further damage Kabul’s already strained relationship with the international community. “This strike means the non-recognition of the Islamic Emirate. It is now clear that no country will recognize the Taliban regime. The United States, which had recently shown some flexibility in releasing funds for Kabul , will obviously end any such process,” said Sayed Ishaq Gilanileader of the Afghan Solidarity Movement.
Aziz Mairaj, a former Afghan diplomat, said the presence of the al-Qaeda leader in the heart of Kabul has seriously undermined the credibility of the Taliban regime. “After that, every claim that the Taliban foreign minister has made or will make in international meetings and forums will be seen as false and superficial,” Mairaj said.



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