Despite repeated denials by the Taliban, foreign terror groups, including Pakistan-based and India-focused Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed continue to maintain significant presence in Afghanistan, according to a report by the monitoring team of the Taliban sanctions committee of the UN, formally known as the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011).
According to the report, which the MT has submitted to the UNSC member states, the Taliban are directly controlling three of the eight terror camps JeM is running in Nangarhar, Afghanistan. LeT, says the report, maintains three such camps are in Kunar and Nangarhar.
This is the 13th report by the MT and the first since the Taliban took control of Kabul in August last year. The conclusions drawn are based on consultations with member states. The Taliban sanctions committee is currently chaired by India’s permanent representative to UN TS Tirumurti.
Last week, the head of Taliban’s political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, had said that the government in Kabul is not allowing anyone to use Afghan soil against “any neighbouring and regional country”. India, however, remains concerned about the activities of Pakistan-based groups in Afghanistan and their links with Taliban.
The latest report by the MT has “reintroduced” text on the activities of LeT and JeM in Afghanistan and also named the UN-proscribed leaders of these organisations. In its earlier reports, the MT had highlighted how LeT had provided financial help and also training to Taliban fighters. The latest report also says a Taliban delegation visited a Lashkar training camp in the Haska Mina district of Nangarhar, as recently as January 2022 and that LeT leader Mawlawi Assadullah met Taliban deputy interior minister Noor Jalil in October 2021.
NSA Ajit Doval had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism in the Dushanbe security dialogue on Afghanistan and called upon all to enhance the capability of Afghanistan to fight terror groups that pose a threat to regional security. The joint statement issued after the meeting saw India, Russia,China, Iran and central Asian countries calling for dismantling of terror camps in Afghanistan and the region.
The MT report admits though that the team was unable to visit Afghanistan during the period under review and that it wasn’t briefed by any Afghan official. One member-state is also quoted as saying there’s no evidence of LeT and JeM activities in Afghanistan because of “effective security operations” against them.
The report also says member-states had expressed concern that weapons and ammunition supplied to the former Afghan government by the US may find their way out of Afghanistan and into the hands of non-state actors, though there has been no evidence of this so far. “Small arms are believed to have moved inside and outside Afghanistan and may have found their way to foreign terrorist groups,” it says. Similar concerns had been expressed by Doval recently in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani.
The report further says the Taliban victory has inspired terrorists around the world, although the relocation of foreign terrorist fighters to Afghanistan has not materialised in significant numbers.
“Taliban have continued to insist publicly that there are no foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, even though member-states are clear that many fought alongside the Taliban in 2021. Central Asian embassies based in Afghanistan reported with concern the appearance of several leaders of foreign terrorist groups apparently moving freely around Kabul from August onwards,” it says.