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Taliban welcome Biden’s remarks on al-Qaeda

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KABUL: Taliban government on Saturday drew attention to a comment made by US President Joe Biden, emphasizing their stance that there is no al-Qaida threat in the country.

During a press conference on Friday regarding the US Supreme Court’s decision to block his student debt relief program, Biden was asked if he acknowledged any mistakes made during the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. In response, President Biden stated that the United States is receiving assistance from Afghanistan’s Taliban to address the al-Qaeda threat. Biden replied, “No, no. All the evidence is coming back. Do you remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaeda would not be there. I said it wouldn’t be there. I said we’d get help from the Taliban. What’s happening now? What’s going on? Read your press. I was right.”

This statement contradicted a UN report released the previous month, which stated that the Taliban maintains “strong and symbiotic” ties with al-Qaeda, and that the latter is “rebuilding operational capability” in Afghanistan.

The question arose in response to a report released on Friday, which stated that US officials were hindered during the mass evacuations from Afghanistan in 2021 due to a lack of clear decision-making, absence of centralized crisis management, and confusing public messaging.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seized upon Biden’s comments on Saturday, stating in a press release, “We consider President Joe Biden’s remarks about the non-existence of armed groups in Afghanistan as an acknowledgment of reality. It refutes the recent report by the UN Sanctions Monitoring Team alleging the presence and operations of over twenty armed groups in Afghanistan.”

In May, a UN report indicated that there were signs of armed groups, such as al-Qaida, rebuilding in the country. “The link between the Taliban and both al-Qaida and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains strong and symbiotic,” the report stated. “A range of terrorist groups have greater freedom of movement under the de facto Taliban authorities. They are taking advantage of this, and the terrorism threat is increasing in both Afghanistan and the region.” The Taliban leaders in Afghanistan maintain that they do not allow their territory to be used by armed groups plotting against other nations and they deny the presence of al-Qaida.

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