Two years after Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and 22 years after 9/11, top Taliban leaders are still encouraging jihad – even as the White House continues to send pallets of cash to the country.
In a speech to an audience of mujahideen fighters and the military commanders of the Afghan Taliban’s Ministry of Defense, a transcript of which was released last month, Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, the Taliban defense minister, said that “jihad is not over.”
“You and I, who waged jihad, sacrificed and suffered fatigue – this was for the sake of freeing this country from the occupation of infidels and to restore the Islamic system that was destroyed by them. Jihad is obligatory on us and you from Allah,” Mujahid continued. To that end, he urged Taliban forces to stockpile weapons to wield against the enemies of Islam. “It is obligatory upon you – and this is jihad, that you should also do this, to protect Muslims, to protect the borders of Islam, to protect your system,” he said.
Mujahid is the son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban who refused to extradite Osama bin Laden after 9/11. It is clear that he has inherited his father’s disdain for the United States, boasting in the speech how the Taliban forced the “infidel invaders” to leave Afghanistan “on the run” with “eyes lowered in shame.”
Mujahid’s remarks are a chilling reminder that Afghanistan remains a haven for Islamic extremism and a major security threat to the United States and the Western world. Dr. Yigal Carmon, the founder of MERMI, a group that monitors and translates statements from radical Islamists, said that Mujahid’s statements indicate the Taliban “never abandoned the global ideology of jihad.”
Following Biden’s humiliating evacuation from the country in 2021, the Taliban has plenty of equipment with which to wage their jihad. According to a report published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Taliban acquired $7.2 billion worth of modern arms due to the hasty withdrawal. Some of those weapons have reportedly already been exported to places like neighboring Pakistan, where that country’s Taliban is using it to wage terror campaigns.
Afghanistan has also once again become a haven for terrorist groups. According to a United Nations report released in August, at least 20 terror organizations are currently operating inside Afghanistan and “have greater freedom of maneuver under the Taliban de facto authorities.”
Ali Nazary, the head of foreign relations for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), the largest anti-Taliban resistance group, warned in a recent interview that the security situation inside the country is even worse than it was in 2001. “It is a new stage for the current leadership of al-Qaeda, which has a strong symbiotic relationship with the Taliban and has retransformed Afghanistan into a haven for terrorism emboldening global jihadism,” he said.
Nazary also claimed that, prior to his death at the hands of U.S. forces last year, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri settled less than a mile from the Presidential Palace in Kabul, “in the heart of the city.” He also said that foreign terrorists could freely walk through Afghanistan’s open borders and receive new passports from the Taliban.
However, despite it now being obvious that Afghanistan has once again become a terrorist incubator state, Biden is continuing to send piles of American taxpayer cash to the country. The administration has sent a total of $8.2 billion to Afghanistan since August 2021 – making the United States the Taliban’s top patron.
Biden has even outrageously suggested that the Taliban have been true to their word about fighting terrorism and using aid money for humanitarian causes. “Remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaida would not be there. I said it wouldn’t be there. I said we’d get help from the Taliban,” the president boasted in June 2023.
Yet all available indications are that the Taliban have done nothing to fight terrorism, and have launched a brutal campaign of violence and oppression against the Afghan people. 20 years of progress for women and girls’ rights was completely erased mere months after the Taliban takeover. Female protestors have also been publicly beaten, and blasphemy now carries the death penalty.
To solidify the influence of radical Islamism, over the last three months the Taliban Ministry of Education has opened 125 jihadi “religious schools,” which entice male students with free food, housing, and stipends.
Many of those U.S. dollars are likely being funneled to foreign fighters financed by the Taliban. According to some reports, camps of thousands of well-armed fighters now exist throughout the country.
Meanwhile, neither the United States nor the United Nations has offered support for the NRF or other forces opposing the Taliban.
But one country that has offered support for the NRF is Russia. Last week, the NRF disclosed a meeting between the group’s leader, Ahmad Massoud, and Sergei Mironov, the Deputy Minister of the Russian Duma. According to Dr. Hans Lichtenbuch, a former advisor on Central Asia to the German Bundestag, the Russian politician’s official meeting with Ahmad Massoud would have been unthinkable even half a year ago. Four decades prior, Massoud’s father, Shah Massoud, was a powerful Afghan guerilla leader opposing the Soviet Union.
The meeting “is evidence of how much the security has deteriorated in the region,” commented Dr. Lichtenbuch. Russia understands that it has a common enemy with the NRF in the terrorist forces harbored and nurtured by the Taliban.
This is a level of understanding of the stakes in the region that Joe Biden apparently does not have. Instead, he continues to insist that his Afghanistan debacle was an “extraordinary success,” ignoring his own role in propping up enemies of the United States.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.
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