Pak-Based Terror Groups Running Training Camps in Taliban Areas, Says UN Team

The report said that there are 180 to 400 fighters in Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

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Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are running training camps in Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan and have deep links with the ruling regime, the latest report of the United Nations monitoring team on Afghanistan has said.

The report said that there are 180 to 400 fighters in Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which includes "nationals from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Pakistan… located in Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Paktika, and Zabul Provinces".

The report added that while Al Qaeda enjoyed "greater freedom under the new Afghan regime", it was "unlikely to mount or direct attacks outside Afghanistan for the next year or two, owing to both a lack of capability and Taliban restraint.

Citing a member state, the report said that "JeM maintains eight training camps in Nangarhar, three of which are directly under Taliban control". LeT is "said to maintain three camps in Kunar and Nangarhar" and had earlier "provided finance and training expertise to Taliban operations."


JeM Ideologically Closer to the Taliban

The report further stated, "The same member state reported that in January 2022, a Taliban delegation visited a training camp used by LeT in the Haska Mena district of Nangarhar."

"In October 2021, according to one member state… LeT leader, Mawlawi Assadullah, met with Taliban Deputy Interior Minister Noor Jalil," the report added.

The report further referred to JeM as a Deobandi group, ideologically closer to the Taliban.

"The leader of the group is Masood Azhar and Qari Ramazan is the newly appointed head of JeM in Afghanistan," the report stated.

Talking about LeT, the report said, "Within Afghanistan, according to one member state, it is led by Mawlawi Yousuf."

The report also said that the Taliban "appear confident in their ability to control the country" and "wait out" the international community to obtain recognition of their government.

The report further said that the strength of groups like ISIL-K had declined, and they are not said to be "capable of mounting international attacks before 2023 at the earliest".

Internal Tension

The report also said there is an internal power struggle within the Taliban, the emerging power structure in the regime, and the arms and weapons left behind by the NATO forces and the US.

The report said that around 189 senior Taliban leaders reportedly travelled to Kandahar for a three-day jirga from 22 to 24 March to deliberate with Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

"The gathering revealed some divisions within the movement, as consultations on key policy decisions ended with Hibatullah backing the decision to ban girls' education. It exposed Kandahari versus Haqqani, Kandahari versus de facto cabinet, and military versus ulema rivalries. There was no Tajik or Uzbek representation, and key figures such as [Foreign minister] Amir Khan Motaqi… were absent," the report stated.

"The foremost internal division within the Taliban has been defined by opposing views between moderate and hardline blocs. The moderate bloc consists of senior Taliban, including Mullah Baradar, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, who believe the Taliban must engage in working relationships with foreign partners and be integrated into the international system, especially global finances," it further said.

"The hardline bloc is said to consist of senior Taliban centralised around Hibatullah Akhundzada, such as Mohammad Hassan Akhund and several other senior Taliban from Kandahar. The hardline bloc has taken a more ideological approach, with less emphasis on relations with the international community," the report added.

"Independent, to a degree, from either bloc are Sirajuddin Haqqani and the Haqqani Network, who are seen to be more closely aligned with the hardliners but adopt a pragmatic approach to securing Taliban interests."

The report further said that the Kandahari (Durrani) Taliban are said to be dominating among the Taliban leadership.


Haqqani Network and Pushback

The report added that the Haqqani Network quickly secured the control of key portfolios and ministries, such as interior, intelligence, passports and migration.

The Haqqanis have also secured de facto ministerial positions, such as those occupied by de facto Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and de facto Minister for Refugees Khalil Ahmed Haqqani.

"Nonetheless, there has been pushback against the Haqqanis. During the March jirga in Kandahar, it emerged that the Haqqanis had expected an endorsement of Sirajuddin's elevation to deputy prime minister. This did not materialise. A decision to conduct house-to-house searches in Kabul was made without Sirajuddin being consulted and without Haqqani commanders being exempted from the searches, actions were seen as challenging Haqqani's authority," the report said.

Taliban in Control of Arms

"A few member states report that the Taliban claim to have 40 operational aircraft. Currently, these are believed to include two Mi-17 helicopters confirmed as operational, along with two UH-60 Black Hawks, two MD-530 Cayuse light helicopters, two Mi-24 helicopter gunships and one fixed-wing transport aircraft, all of which have been observed flying," the report said.

"Flying these aircraft has propaganda value for the Taliban but little military utility. For the few aircraft in service, the Taliban lack parts, trained mechanics to maintain them and, most importantly, pilots to fly them," the report added.


About the Sanctions Committee

The monitoring team assists the UN Security Council's sanctions committee.

The report is the first since the fall of Kabul in August 2021. It is circulated among the UNSC sanctions committee members and guides the UN's future strategy towards Afghanistan.

The committee has all 15 members of the UNSC. Currently, India is the chair of the UNSC sanctions committee. Russia and UAW are the vice-chairs.

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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Topics:  Pakistan   Afghanistan   Taliban 

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