Afghanistan crisis: Terrorist leader with $5m bounty takes leading role in Kabul

Afghanistan: Expert discusses anti-Taliban resistance

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Khalil Haqqani took centre stage this week to lead Friday prayers for Taliban fighters in the capital. Mr Haqqani, who has strong links to Al-Qaeda and its atrocities in the region, was armed with a rifle outside the mosque as he appeared to be taking on a frontline security role for the Taliban.

According to the New York Times, he told the crowd on Friday: “Our first priority for Afghanistan is security.

“If there is no security, there is no life.

“We will give security, then we will give economy, trade, education for men and women. There will be no discrimination.”

Mr Haqqani is on the terror lists of the United Nations and US – he also appears on posters with a £5million bounty for his capture.

The prominent figure has been part of a so-called Haqqani network, which has operated for decades in tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The group maintains close links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

They are also believed to have played a role to help Osama bin Laden go into hiding following the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

According to the US National Counterterrorism Center, Afghan forces intercepted a Haqqani truck in eastern Afghanistan in October 2013 which contained nearly 28 tonnes of explosives.

Khalil Haqqani is also the uncle of Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.

The presence of Mr Haqqani in the new Taliban regime has done little to suggest the terror group has changed.

One British intelligence officer said: “The fact we have Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani in charge of Kabul security is dismaying.

“The Haqqani and Al Qaeda have a long history together, you could argue they are intertwined, and it is highly unlikely they will cut ties.”

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has also threatened the re-emergence of other dangerous terror groups, including the Islamist State Khorasan.

The franchise was responsible for nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and about 250 clashes with US, Afghan and Pakistani Security Forces since 2017, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Speaking on Thursday, White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “One of the contingencies we are very focused on, laser-focused on, is the potential for a terrorist attack by a group like Isis-K.”

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, added: “Everyone is very animated in the west about the idea of another 9/11 – if that’s coming it’s way down the line.”

Former MI5 chief Lord Jonathan Evans has warned there are two types of terrorism threat which could emerge in Afghanistan over “the coming months and years”.


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Lord Evans added the UK and its allies should have focused on counter-terrorism in Afghanistan rather than attempting to rebuild the country,

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think there are two problems – I think there is more operating space more likely to be available to groups like al Qaida, and there have been reports of Islamic State elements present in Afghanistan.

“If they get the opportunity to put down infrastructure to train and to operate then that will pose a threat to the West more widely.

“There’s also the psychological effect of the inspiration that some people will draw from the failure of Western power in Afghanistan.

“That may well create a certain amount of energy in the wider networks that are still in existence in Britain and across the West.

“So, I think, in practical terms and in terms of ungoverned space, but also in psychological terms, it probably does mean an increase in threat over the coming months and years.”
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