Days after the ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban terrorist group declared on Tuesday that there was no proof of ISIS or al-Qaeda terrorists in the nation.
Since toppling the Western-backed government in Kabul last month, the Taliban have been pressured by the international community to cut links with al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
Simultaneously, they have had to contend with a succession of attacks claimed by an ISIS affiliate, with whom they have been at odds for some years over a variety of economic and ideological differences.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that al-Qaeda had a presence in Afghanistan and reaffirmed the Taliban’s assurance that terrorist groups would not target third countries from Afghanistan.
He told a news conference in Kabul: “We do not see anyone in Afghanistan who has anything to do with al-Qaeda.” “We are committed to the fact that, from Afghanistan, there will not be any danger to any country.”
In 2001, US-led forces deposed the Taliban when they refused to hand up al-Qaeda leaders responsible for the September 11 attacks. After US forces announced their departure and the US-backed government and military crumbled, they returned to Kabul last month.
ISIS-K, the Afghan offshoot of ISIS, first arose in eastern Afghanistan in 2014 and has since spread to other parts of the country, mainly the north.
The US military assessed the group’s size to be around 2,000 combatants a few years ago, though other Afghan officials thought it was greater.
It fought the Taliban and US-led foreign forces for control of smuggling routes.
During the weekend, the organization claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. It also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at Kabul airport last month, which killed 13 US troops and a large number of Afghan civilians who had gathered outside the airport gates.
Mujahid denied that the movement had a real presence in Afghanistan, however, he did admit that it “invisibly carries out some cowardly attacks”.
“The ISIS that exists in Iraq and Syria does not exist here. Still, some people who may be our own Afghans have adopted the ISIS mentality, which is a phenomenon that the people do not support,” he said.