ISLAMABAD – Al-Qaida “is weakening by the day” because the organization has failed to remain active since the murder of Osama bin Laden in a US military raid on its hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, a close associate told Nikkei Asia on the 10th anniversary of the death of the founder of Al-Qaida.
Muhammad Amin ul Haq – who, according to a United Nations Security Council webpage, once coordinated bin Laden’s security – said the death of the master terrorist was a blow to al-Qaida because he was highly respected by other al-Qaida leaders. and also by the Afghan mujahedin who fought the Soviet occupation forces in the 1980s.
Al-Qaida was formed by Bin Laden in 1988 in Afghanistan. Coming from one of Saudi Arabia’s richest and best-connected families with a fortune based on construction, he left to join the anti-Soviet jihad after the invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979.
“All the other key al-Qaida leaders were from Egypt, and they weren’t famous,” Haq told Nikkei in handwritten responses in his native Pashto sent from a secret location. “They couldn’t do any important work after Osama’s death and found no place for themselves in Iraq or Syria. Al-Qaida is weakening day by day.
“People who sympathize with the ideology of al-Qaida number in the hundreds of thousands around the world, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan alone. “said Haq. “But al-Qaida is small in terms of its membership, and it is difficult to give an exact number of its members.”
Haq is today a prominent figure in the Afghan Taliban working in its Prisoners Commission, which collects details about Taliban prisoners in Afghan prisons. He was also in negotiations with the United States in Qatar on the sidelines of Taliban-American talks for the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners.
“Many members of Al-Qaida obtained Afghan nationality during the tenure of Mujahedin leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, and they now call themselves Afghan nationals,” Haq said. Rabbani was president from 1992 to 2001, presiding over only a small part of the country. He was assassinated in a suicide bombing in 2011 in Kabul while he was president of the High Peace Council formed by President Hamid Karzai for talks with the Taliban.
Rabbani was appointed interim president in 1992 in accordance with an agreement signed in the Pakistani province of Peshawar. He was confirmed as president in 1993 after the Mujahedin leaders signed a power-sharing pact in Islamabad. Initially, he controlled most of the country, but when the Taliban invaded Kabul in 1996, he fled to northern Afghanistan and was recognized by the UN.
Haq held several official posts in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan, when the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan from Kandahar in the south from 1996 to 2001.
Haq said what remains of al-Qaida would most likely be in accordance with the Taliban’s instructions. He said, however, that the Taliban could allow al-Qaida and other foreign militants to resume operations on Afghan soil if the United States continues to “violate” the Doha agreement signed in February of the year. last for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.
“Al-Qaida, like any group, is examining the situation carefully,” Haq told Nikkei. “If its leaders think that being silent and keeping a low profile works best, they will shut up. But if they see an active role as good for them, then they resurface.”
The joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States signed last year in Doha stated that the Taliban “will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaida, to use Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
“The Taliban will also assess the situation, and if the Americans honor their commitments in the Doha deal, they will not allow foreign militants to operate in areas under their control,” Haq said. “But if the situation is different, then it would be the compulsion of the Taliban to provide space for al-Qaida and other foreign mujahedin to operate because everyone is looking for financial and manpower support in such a situation.”
Asked what is likely to happen, Haq said he had never been optimistic about the Doha deal and did not believe it would end the war.
“It is possible that the nature of the war will change because of the Taliban-US agreement, but the fighting will not end,” he said. “I think that will lead to more bloodshed. I don’t think the Americans will leave Afghanistan completely. It is possible that the regular army will withdraw, but the United States will keep subcontractors or reinforce it. private militias to serve their interests for a long time. “
Haq said the COVID-19 pandemic had had no impact on the war in Afghanistan and the fighting had been more intense in recent times than in previous years.
The US Department of Defense said in a report released in July that Al-Qaida’s regional affiliate in Afghanistan maintains close ties with the Taliban.
“AQIS [al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent] regularly supports and works with low-level Taliban operatives in its efforts to undermine the Afghan government, and maintains a persistent interest in attacking US forces and Western targets in the region, ”the Pentagon said in a security assessment compiled for the US Congress.