(CNN)This weekend marks the 10th anniversary since Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was killed by US special-operations forces, Seal Team 6, inside his high-walled compound in the Pakistani military college city of Abbottabad.
His name and that of his terrorist network, al Qaeda, came to define an era of US reaction and retribution dwarfing any previous counter-terrorism policy.America’s “war on terror” is about to enter a new phase as President Joe Biden prepares to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but now al Qaeda claims its war with America is far from over.In an exclusive interview with CNN conducted through intermediaries, two al Qaeda operatives tell CNN that “war against the US will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world.”In the past al Qaeda has rarely responded to questions, choosing instead to hide behind its own self-serving propaganda, dodging even the most distant scrutiny. It’s unclear why the group has chosen to do so now.Read MoreTerrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, editor-in-chief of West Point’s CTC Sentinel, who reviewed al Qaeda’s answers, says it is possible “they feel buoyed by the Biden administration’s decision to pull out troops from Afghanistan, but they may also be seeking to deflect attention from the many recent losses.”A video grab dated June 19, 2001 shows al Qaeda members training.America’s longest war will endToday, the terror group that once roared to world attention is reduced to a whimper, but it is far from dead. And now says it’s planning a comeback after US forces leave Afghanistan, by partnering once again with the Taliban. In its response to CNN, two members of al Qaeda’s subcontinent broadcast branch heap praise on the Taliban for keeping the fight against America alive. “Thanks to Afghans for the protection of comrades-in-arms, many such jihadi fronts have been successfully operating in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time,” the spokesperson says. Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksThick smoke rises over the New York City skyline after the World Trade Center towers were downed by terrorists on September 11, 2001.Hide Caption 1 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksIn this image taken from video, American Airlines Flight 11 is seen seconds before crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ET. It was the first plane that hit the World Trade Center. Flight 11 took off from Boston and was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles.Hide Caption 2 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPeople in New York look up as the World Trade Center burns.Hide Caption 3 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksFire and smoke are seen from the north tower.Hide Caption 4 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksA man falls from one of the World Trade Center towers. The publication of this photo, taken by Richard Drew, led to a public outcry from people who found it insensitive. Drew sees it differently. On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, he said he considers the falling man an “unknown soldier” who he hopes “represents everyone who had that same fate that day.” It’s believed that upwards of 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths after the planes hit the towers.Hide Caption 5 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksSeventeen minutes after the north tower was struck, at 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center. That plane also flew out of Boston en route to Los Angeles.Hide Caption 6 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPeople in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral react with horror as they look down Fifth Avenue toward the World Trade Center site.Hide Caption 7 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksWhite House Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispers into the ear of US President George W. Bush as Bush was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida. “America is under attack,” he said.Hide Caption 8 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPedestrians look across the East River to the burning towers.Hide Caption 9 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksSurveillance video from a Pentagon security camera shows a fireball rising from the southwestern side of the building after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it at 9:37 a.m. The flight had taken off from Dulles, Virginia, en route to Los Angeles.Hide Caption 10 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksFirefighters try to control the flames at the Pentagon.Hide Caption 11 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksVice President Dick Cheney talks on the phone from inside the President’s Emergency Operations Center.Hide Caption 12 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksThe south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 9:59 a.m.Hide Caption 13 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPeople run as the building collapses.Hide Caption 14 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksTwo men take cover as a dust cloud from the collapsed building envelops lower Manhattan.Hide Caption 15 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksAt 10:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 — traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco — crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It is believed that the hijackers crashed the plane in that location, rather than their unknown target, after the passengers and crew tried to retake control of the flight deck.Hide Caption 16 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksMilitary vehicles travel along the road leading to the crash site of Flight 93.Hide Caption 17 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksBush speaks to Cheney aboard Air Force One after departing Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. He had flown to Nebraska temporarily for security reasons.Hide Caption 18 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksThe north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 10:28 a.m. The time between the first attack and the collapse of both towers was 102 minutes.Hide Caption 19 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksA massive cloud of smoke and debris fills lower Manhattan after the north tower crumbled.Hide Caption 20 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksNew York Daily News photographer David Handschuh is carried after his leg was shattered by falling debris.Hide Caption 21 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksA New York firefighter pauses as smoke rises in the background.Hide Caption 22 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksDust-covered survivors run through New York’s streets after the towers collapsed.Hide Caption 23 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPeople in New York navigate through a dust cloud.Hide Caption 24 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksMembers of Congress gather on the east steps of Capitol Hill and sing “God Bless America” to denounce the terrorist attacks.Hide Caption 25 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksMarcy Borders stands covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Borders, who became known as “Dust Lady,” died of stomach cancer in 2015. She was 42.Hide Caption 26 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksDust, ash and rubble cover everything on a street in lower Manhattan.Hide Caption 27 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksRemains of the World Trade Center are seen amid the debris.Hide Caption 28 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksBush prepares to address the nation on the evening of September 11. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America,” he said in his remarks. “These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”Hide Caption 29 of 30 Photos: Timeline of the September 11 attacksPeople in New York gather for a candlelight vigil a day after the attacks.Hide Caption 30 of 30By September 11 this year, America’s longest war that aimed to neutralize the terror group will formally end, with President Biden declaring, “Bin laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded, in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed, telling ABC’s “This Week” earlier this month: “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, and we went because we were attacked on 9/11, and we went to take on those who had attacked us on 9/11, and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorism directed at the United States or any of our allies and partners,” Blinken said. “And we achieved the objectives that we set out to achieve.” What made the exit possible is America’s February 2020 deal with the Afghan Taliban in which the group promised to cut the ties with al Qaeda that caused the US to invade Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. Through journalistic intermediaries, CNN stringer Saleem Mehsud reached out to al Qaeda for its reaction to Biden’s move to pull out troops from Afghanistan, and rather than ignore him as it has done so many times in the past, representatives answered.Their reply suggests the Taliban is being less than honest with Biden’s administration, and that the US troop drawdown could be based on a sham.JUST WATCHEDThe life of Osama bin LadenReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
The life of Osama bin Laden 04:15CNN has reached out to the Taliban for comment on its relationship with al Qaeda, but it has not responded, rendering al Qaeda’s response to CNN a significant insight to what may happen after US troops pull out. Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism expert and author of several books on Osama Bin Laden, read al Qaeda’s reply to CNN and judged it “genuine.”Bergen points to another part of al Qaeda’s response highlighting continuing ties with the Taliban, in which it said: “At the same time TTP [Pakistani Taliban] and AQ have relations of Islamic brotherhood which was and still intact and same is the case with the Afghan Taliban.”He notes, “This confirms what the UN has been saying that, ‘the Taliban regularly consulted’ with al Qaeda during its negotiations with the United States while guaranteeing that they ‘would honor their historical ties’ with the terrorist group.”Somewhat ambiguously, al Qaeda also claims no interest in using Afghanistan itself as a launch pad for future attacks because it no longer needs it. “It did not need Afghanistan and there is no such intention in the future,” the group says. However, as Cruickshank points out, “a statement of intent from an anonymous operative is hardly binding on the group.”Osama Bin Laden was killed during a raid by U.S. special forces at this compound in Abottabad, Pakistan.Terror group eclipsed by ISISIn its reply to CNN al Qaeda declares Afghanistan its victory. “The Americans are now defeated,” and draw a parallel to the Soviet Union’s withdrawal three decades ago from the country and its subsequent collapse: “The US war in Afghanistan played key role in hitting US economy.” That line echoes the rhetoric of bin Laden himself, who promoted the oversimplified idea that the Soviets bankrupted themselves in Afghanistan. The cost of the US wars on terror has reached into the trillions, but the 9/11 attacks did not bring on US economic collapse. Al Qaeda admits the toll the war has taken on them, saying it sent “most” al Qaeda central fighters to Syria where “some of them have been martyred in recent years.”It also admits that bin Laden’s death at the hands of Seal Team 6 did weaken al Qaeda, allowing the more nihilistic Islamists, ISIS (Daesh), to become established. “They benefited from the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama, Sheikh Atiyahullah, Sheikh Abu Yahya Al-Libi (may God have mercy on them) and many others.” In recent years ISIS’s atrocities and attacks it inspired in Europe have all but eclipsed al Qaeda. But the latter presents this as a “tactical silence,” claiming it is not “broken” and is instead “fighting a long war” with “different stages.” Al Qaeda’s current leader, the less charismatic Ayman al-Zawahiri, lives a near virtual existence and is heard from only in rare propaganda releases. However, the group still sees itself as a lead for other jihadists. Franchises of Al Qaeda operate in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and northern Africa, among other places. Current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, pictured in a photo released in 2012, is heard from only in rare propaganda releases.In the reply to CNN about its role in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it claims to have “masterminded” the 2009 attack killing seven CIA operatives at their base near Khowst in Afghanistan. It said that at the time the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP, which was also known to be involved in the attack, was the junior partner and “was in its learning stages, many mistakes were made by them.” Bergen says, “This fits with the [bin Laden] documents in Abbottabad in which AQ leaders treat TTP as a junior partner who they can boss around (even though AQ is a tiny organization and the TTP a large one, relatively speaking).”Biden appears to be aware of the potential for Taliban duplicity and al Qaeda’s spread, saying in his speech to Congress on Wednesday that “we will maintain an over-the-horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland.” “But make no mistake — the terrorist threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will remain vigilant against threats to the United States, wherever they come from. Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.” Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers fire artillery in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province in June 2011. Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in October 2001 to stop the Taliban regime from providing a safe haven to al Qaeda and to stop al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.Hide Caption 1 of 55 Photos: America's longest warThousands of Taliban supporters rally in Quetta, Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on October 1, 2001.Hide Caption 2 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAl Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast on October 7, 2001. Bin Laden praised God for the September 11 attacks and swore America “will never dream of security” until “the infidel’s armies leave the land of Muhammad.”Hide Caption 3 of 55 Photos: America's longest warA Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from a US ship in the Arabian Sea on October 7, 2001. American and British forces began airstrikes in Afghanistan, targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban regime that had been giving al Qaeda protection. Hide Caption 4 of 55 Photos: America's longest warMembers of the Afghan Northern Alliance, an anti-Taliban group, kill a wounded Taliban fighter they found while advancing toward Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2001. US airstrikes and Northern Alliance ground attacks led to the fall of Kabul that month.Hide Caption 5 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAn Afghan Northern Alliance fighter bursts into laughter as US planes strike a Taliban position near Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in December 2001. Afghan militia leaders declared victory in the battle of Tora Bora and claimed to have captured al Qaeda’s last base.Hide Caption 6 of 55 Photos: America's longest warRenae Chapman holds her 2-year-old daughter, Amanda, during the funeral service for her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, in Fort Lewis, Washington, in January 2002. He was the first US soldier to be killed by enemy fire during the war in Afghanistan.Hide Caption 7 of 55 Photos: America's longest warMohboba, 7, stands near a bullet-ridden wall in Kabul as she waits to be seen at a health clinic in March 2002. She had a skin ailment that plagued many poverty-stricken children in Afghanistan.Hide Caption 8 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldier Jorge Avino tallies the number of people that his mortar team had killed while fighting in Afghanistan in March 2002.Hide Caption 9 of 55 Photos: America's longest warA man and his son watch US soldiers prepare to sweep their home in southeastern Afghanistan in November 2002.Hide Caption 10 of 55 Photos: America's longest warWomen wait in line to be treated at a health clinic in Kalakan, Afghanistan, in February 2003.Hide Caption 11 of 55 Photos: America's longest warMohammaed Mahdi, who lost his foot in a mine explosion, waits for a Red Cross doctor at his home in Kabul in August 2004. This photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti, who five years later lost part of his leg when the armored vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb.Hide Caption 12 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAfghans in Kabul line up to vote in the country’s first democratic election in October 2004. Hamid Karzai was sworn in as President in December of that year.Hide Caption 13 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAn Afghan soldier provides security at the site where a US helicopter crashed near Ghazni, Afghanistan, in April 2005. At least 16 people were killed.Hide Caption 14 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS President George W. Bush attends a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul in March 2006. It was Bush’s first visit to Afghanistan.Hide Caption 15 of 55 Photos: America's longest warGirls at the Bibi Mahroo High School raise their hands during an English class in Kabul in November 2006. After the fall of the Taliban, millions of Afghan girls were able to attend school and get the education that their mothers couldn’t.Hide Caption 16 of 55 Photos: America's longest warBritish Marines take cover during an anti-Taliban operation near Kajaki, Afghanistan, in March 2007. Many other countries also deployed troops to the country.Hide Caption 17 of 55 Photos: America's longest warSupplies are dropped to US troops in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province in May 2007.Hide Caption 18 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAfghan students recite Islamic prayers at an outdoor classroom in the remote Wakhan Corridor in September 2007.Hide Caption 19 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS Army Spc. Brandon Olson sinks onto a bunker embankment in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in September 2007. The Korengal Valley was the site of some of the deadliest combat in the region.Hide Caption 20 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS Marine Sgt. Nicholas Bender launches a Raven surveillance drone near the remote village of Baqwa, Afghanistan, in March 2009.Hide Caption 21 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers take defensive positions after receiving fire from Taliban positions in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in May 2009. Army Spc. Zachary Boyd was still in his “I love NY” boxers because he rushed from his sleeping quarters to join his fellow platoon members. Hide Caption 22 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers shield their eyes from the rotor wash of a Chinook helicopter as they are picked up from a mission in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in October 2009.Hide Caption 23 of 55 Photos: America's longest warChildren watch a Canadian soldier conducting a dusk patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in October 2009.Hide Caption 24 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers fire mortars from a base in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in October 2009.Hide Caption 25 of 55 Photos: America's longest warTroops rest at an airfield in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in February 2010.Hide Caption 26 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAfghan soldiers rush a wounded police officer to an American helicopter in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in March 2010.Hide Caption 27 of 55 Photos: America's longest warVillage elders meet in Marja, Afghanistan, in March 2010.Hide Caption 28 of 55 Photos: America's longest warSgt. Brian Keith sits with his wife, Sara, and their baby son, Stephen, just before his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2010. A few months earlier, President Barack Obama announced a surge of 30,000 additional troops. This new deployment would bring the US total to almost 100,000 troops, in addition to 40,000 NATO troops. Hide Caption 29 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS troops, aboard a C-17 transport plane, head to Afghanistan in April 2010.Hide Caption 30 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers recover an armored vehicle that was hit by an explosive device in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province in April 2010.Hide Caption 31 of 55 Photos: America's longest warSchoolgirls are seen through the window of a Humvee as they wave to a passing American convoy in Herat, Afghanistan, in June 2010.Hide Caption 32 of 55 Photos: America's longest warA man cries while talking to US soldiers in Naghma Bazaar, Afghanistan, in September 2010. The man said Taliban fighters had forced their way into his home and demanded food and milk before getting into a firefight with American soldiers.Hide Caption 33 of 55 Photos: America's longest warHalawasha, right, and an Afghan National Police member hold her young sister Shokria as a US Army medic wraps her serious burns in Now Ruzi, Afghanistan, in October 2010. US soldiers were on a routine patrol when they came across Shokria, whose forearms were burned with scalding milk during a household accident five days earlier. Medics dressed the burns and began working with local Afghan military to have the girl driven to a nearby hospital.Hide Caption 34 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAn Afghan man is detained by US Marines after they battled Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in November 2010.Hide Caption 35 of 55 Photos: America's longest warPresident Barack Obama and members of his national security team monitor the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. “Fourteen people crammed into the room, the President sitting in a folding chair on the corner of the table’s head,” said CNN’s Peter Bergen as he relived the bin Laden raid five years later. “They sat in this room until the SEALs returned to Afghanistan.” (Editor’s note: The classified document in front of Hillary Clinton was obscured by the White House.)Hide Caption 36 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS Marine Cpl. Burness Britt reacts after being lifted onto a medevac helicopter in June 2011. A large piece of shrapnel from an improvised explosive device cut a major artery on his neck near Sangin, Afghanistan. This photo was taken by Anja Niedringhaus, an Associated Press photographer who was fatally shot in Afghanistan in 2014.Hide Caption 37 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers work out at a post in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in September 2011.Hide Caption 38 of 55 Photos: America's longest warTarana Akbari, 12, screams after a suicide bomber attacked the Abul Fazel Shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2011. Twin bomb blasts killed dozens of Afghan people on the holy day of Ashura.Hide Caption 39 of 55 Photos: America's longest warIn this long-exposure photo, a jet takes off from the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier that was in the northern Arabian Sea in January 2012.Hide Caption 40 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAfghan soldiers, left, and American troops blow up a Taliban firing position in the Afghan village of Layadira in February 2013.Hide Caption 41 of 55 Photos: America's longest warLesleigh Coyer lies down in front of the grave of her brother, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Coyer, at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery in March 2013. He died of complications from an injury sustained in Afghanistan.Hide Caption 42 of 55 Photos: America's longest warSamiullah, 8 months old and malnourished, is held by his mother, Islam Bibi, at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Lashgar Gar, Afghanistan, in September 2013.Hide Caption 43 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAn Afghan army convoy travels Highway 1 in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in November 2013. The picture at right shows Afghan President Hamid Karzai.Hide Caption 44 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAfghan Army Sgt. Sayed Wazir screams a prayer while firing a rocket in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in November 2013.Hide Caption 45 of 55 Photos: America's longest warA woman is rushed from the scene of a suicide car bombing in Kabul in December 2013.Hide Caption 46 of 55 Photos: America's longest warBlood-stained Pakistani bank notes are displayed on the body of a dead suicide bomber after an attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in March 2014. Police said they found the bank notes in his pocket. Three insurgents tried to storm the former headquarters of Afghanistan’s intelligence service in southern Kandahar. They died in a gunbattle with security forces, officials said.Hide Caption 47 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS President Barack Obama walks with the parents of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after making a statement at the White House about Bergdahl’s release in May 2014. Bergdahl had been held captive in Afghanistan for nearly five years, and the Taliban released him in exchange for five U.S.-held prisoners.Hide Caption 48 of 55 Photos: America's longest warThis photo shows the aftermath of an American airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in October 2015. The hospital was “accidentally struck” by US bombs after Afghan forces called for air support, said Gen. John Campbell, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.Hide Caption 49 of 55 Photos: America's longest warAmerican service members ride in a helicopter on the way to the Bagram Air Base near Kabul in September 2017. President Donald Trump had recently announced a plan to increase troops in the country.Hide Caption 50 of 55 Photos: America's longest warPresident Donald Trump visits Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base in November 2019.Hide Caption 51 of 55 Photos: America's longest warA US Army carry team moves the transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goble during a dignified transfer at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base in December 2019. Goble, who was from Washington Township, New Jersey, was killed during combat in Afghanistan. Hide Caption 52 of 55 Photos: America's longest warTwo children pass members of a Taliban Red Unit in Afghanistan’s Laghman province in March 2020. A month earlier, the United States and the Taliban signed a historic agreement.Hide Caption 53 of 55 Photos: America's longest warUS soldiers retrieve their bags in Fort Drum, New York, in December 2020, after returning home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.Hide Caption 54 of 55 Photos: America's longest warPresident Joe Biden speaks from the White House Treaty Room in April 2021. Biden formally announced his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan before September 11.Hide Caption 55 of 55Afghanistan could be free for al Qaeda againToday al Qaeda appears proud of its influence over the TTP. “Now the organization of Pakistani Taliban and their leadership not only moving forward in the light of Sharia but also making better decisions based on past experiences and recent successes have been made possible by the same unity and adherence to Sharia and Wisdom.”It’s unclear if this is a reference to the TTP’s first major assault in several years in which it struck a hotel where the Chinese ambassador was reported to be staying in Quetta last week. Pakistani security officials tell CNN that China’s ambassador was not the target, but even so it highlights that al Qaeda is regaining strength.If the Taliban is as close to al Qaeda as that group claims, and the UN assesses, then AQ’s 2,000-word communication with CNN implies that rather being ceasefire partners with the US, the Taliban is as close to abetting al Qaeda in war against America as it ever was. Al Qaeda is making clear the country that was once its base to plan the deadliest-ever attack on American soil is free for it to use again. “The United States is not a problem for our Afghan brothers, but due to the sacrifices in the Afghan war, the Americans are now defeated. Whether Republicans or Democrats — both have made final decision to pull out from the Afghan war.”If the Taliban keeps its promises to Biden, then all this is just al Qaeda propaganda, but if it doesn’t, all bets about the future threat it poses are off.This story has been updated.
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