On Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch congratulated the Taliban on their takeover of Afghanistan and promised to continue its military efforts.
The Taliban had sheltered Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden during its leadership from 1996 to 2001, when it was overthrown by U.S.–led forces in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. However, as U.S. forces withdrew, Taliban fighters reclaimed control of Kabul last week at the end of a lightning offensive.
The U.S. considers Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) by far the most threatening branch of Al-Qaeda’s global network. Accordingly, it has targeted its fighters in Yemen with drone strikes since shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
AQAP fighters in Yemen’s central governorate of Bayda and the southern province of Shabwa celebrated the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan with fireworks and by firing gunshots in the air.
“This victory and empowerment reveals to us that jihad and fighting represent the (Islamic law)-based, legal, and realistic way to restore rights (and) expel the invaders and occupiers,” AQAP stated.
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist networks around the world, released a statement, “as for the game of democracy and working with simple pacifism, it is a deceptive mirage, a fleeting shadow, and a vicious circle that starts with a zero and ends with it.”
Both AQAP and the Taliban are Sunni Islam terrorist organizations. Over the last two decades, the two groups have maintained strong ties. Then on Aug. 15, the Taliban took Kabul, quickly deposing the Afghan national capital’s democratically elected government, which was backed by the United States. In a press release issued on Wednesday, AQAP mentioned the Taliban’s takeover of democracy in Kabul, Breitbart reported.
The Taliban confirmed it would rule Afghanistan on Islamic law, or sharia, two days before Al-Qaeda issued a statement criticizing democratic government systems.
“There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country,” Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior Taliban commander, told Reuters on Aug. 17. “We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear [sic]. It is sharia law and that is it.”
The peace process only began when Washington agreed to withdraw American soldiers from Afghanistan and end the country’s almost two-decade-long military occupation, but only if the Taliban agreed to break relations with Al-Qaeda. However, a statement issued on Wednesday by AQAP expressing support for the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan’s U.S.–backed government demonstrates that al-Qaeda is still closely associated with the Afghan terror group.