Taliban say they didn’t know Ayman al-Zawahiri was in Kabul after al Qaeda leader killed in U.S. drone strike

The Taliban said on Thursday they were investigating what they described as the “claim” of the al Qaeda chief. Ayman al-Zawahiri He was killed in a US drone strike in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and said they had “no information” about his “coming and staying”.

The statement was the first time the Taliban had addressed on Sunday Drone attack kills head of al Qaeda network On the balcony of a safe house in Kabul, which US officials linked to the Taliban leader.

The killing of al-Zawahiri has further strained relations between the Taliban and the West, especially as the Taliban are seeking immediate cash to deal with an economic catastrophe in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal from the country a year ago.

The Taliban promised in the 2020 Doha Agreement with the US that they would not shelter al Qaeda members or those seeking to attack the US.

In Thursday’s statement, the Taliban appeared to allay those concerns.

He said he had “directed the investigation and intelligence agencies to conduct a comprehensive and serious investigation into various aspects of the incident,” and assured that, “there is no threat to any country, including the US, from Afghan soil.” The Islamic Emirate wants to implement the Doha Agreement and the violation of the agreement must end.”

The strike in the early hours of Sunday rocked Shirpur, once a district of historic buildings that were bulldozed in 2003 to make way for luxury homes for officials from Afghanistan’s western-backed government and international aid organizations. After the US withdrew from the country in August 2021, senior Taliban moved into some of the abandoned homes there.

US officials have said al-Zawahiri was staying at the home of a top aide of senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. Haqqani is the deputy head of the Taliban, serves as the interior minister in their government and heads the Haqqani Network, a powerful faction within the movement.

The Haqqani Network is an Afghan Islamic insurgent group built around the family of the same name. In the 1980s, it fought Soviet forces, and over the past 20 years, it fought US-led NATO troops and the former Afghanistan government. The US government holds a $10 million bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani for attacks on American soldiers and Afghan civilians.

But there are rivals within Haqqani’s Taliban leadership of Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province, mostly from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Some believe that Sirajuddin Haqqani wants more power. Others in the Taliban have opposed Haqqani attacks against civilians in Kabul and elsewhere during the insurgency.

During the first half of 2022, al-Zawahiri increasingly reached out to supporters with video and audio messages, including assurances that al-Qaeda would join forces with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to lead a global movement. could compete, said a report by the United Nations’ Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

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