KABUL: According to a UN assessment, the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan have a tight link, with the latter "renewing its oath of allegiance to Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban's supreme leader."
The presence of Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) terror groups in Afghanistan was assessed in a report by the UN Security Council's Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, as per reports. "According to member state estimates, Al Qaeda has found a safe haven and expanded freedom of action under the Taliban. Since August, Ayman al-Zawahiri has sent out more recorded messages, and there is now confirmation of his existence as recently as February 2022 " the report said.
Al-Zawahiri has been the leader of Al Qaeda since 2011, succeeding Osama bin Laden, the terror group's prior leader, who died in 2011.
According to the report, Afghanistan's "Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Paktika, and Zabul provinces" have an estimated presence of "180 to 400 Al Qaeda fighters" from "Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan." The Afghan Taliban government has not yet responded to the report.