A video allegedly showing Osama bin Laden's former personal security chief traveling openly in Afghanistan for the first time in a decade has raised questions about the relationship between al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The Drive reported Monday that a YouTube video showed Dr. Amin al-Haq, who served under al-Qaida co-founder bin Laden, being driven around Afghanistan with a Taliban escort. It was not known when the clip was recorded.
The video, reportedly taken at a checkpoint in al-Haq's native Nangarhar Province, caused some people to wonder whether the Taliban would give al-Qaida safe haven in Afghanistan, The Drive reported.
The Taliban has gained control of Afghanistan amid President Joe Biden's disastrous troops withdrawal from the country.
Biden on Aug. 20 said al-Qaida was "gone" from Afghanistan but other officials have made clear the U.S. government's official position is that the terrorist organization remains a presence in the country, The Drive said.
Al-Haq was believed to have fled al-Qaida's cave complex in Tora Bora into Pakistan with bin Laden and other senior group members sometime between 2001-02. He was arrested in the Pakistani city of Lahore in 2008, but was released in 2011 under suspicious circumstances, The Drive said. He then disappeared from the public eye.
Based on the video, the Taliban are treating al-Haq as a very important person. People are seen approaching a discreetly armored SUV and kissing the hands of the terrorist, in the front passenger seat, and taking selfies with him.
The Taliban has insisted it will not harbor al-Qaida under its new regime, but the video seems to indicate otherwise.
At least two other pickup trucks – one a Ford Ranger in the configuration used by the now-defunct Afghan National Police – are seen flying the Taliban's white flag.
The Drive reported there was another SUV that appeared to have an array of antennas on top – likely either an onboard communications suite or an electronic warfare system designed to jam signals used to remotely detonate improvised explosive devices.
The Taliban wants to be recognized as the nation's new legitimate government. However, they also have reinstituted several hardline policies, including banning music.
Credible reports say the Taliban are hunting down and executing former Afghan government officials and security forces personnel, The Drive reported.
The Taliban are in open conflict with the Islamic State group (ISIS-K), which is known to have a significant presence in Nangarhar. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members last week at Kabul's airport.
The Drive said there had been unconfirmed reports the U.S. and other countries might consider, to some degree, assisting the Taliban against ISIS-K. How al-Qaida's presence could affect that possibility was unknown.
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