Al Qaeda IS back in Afghanistan: Bin Laden security chief and arms supplier Amin ul-Haq RETURNS to his hometown after 20 years with just hours until US troops leave and two weeks on from the Taliban’s takeover
A close aide of Osama bin Laden has returned to his home in Afghanistan after 20 years of US occupation just hours until American forces finish their evacuation from the war-torn country by President Joe Biden‘s deadline, a video purports to show.
Amin ul-Haq, a top Al Qaeda arms supplier, returned to his hometown in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Monday just over two weeks after the Taliban completed its lightening fast offensive to take over nearly all of the country.
Ul-Haq headed bin Laden’s security when he was occupying the Tora Bora cave complex. The two men escaped together when US forces attacked the complex, according to NBC.
The Al Qaeda leader was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011.
In the video, a car carrying ul-Haq is seen driving through a checkpoint amid a small crowd.
At one point the car stops and ul-Haq rolls down the window. Apparent admirers crowd the vehicle’s passenger side, with men taking turns grasping and even kissing the top Al Qaeda associate’s hand.
Two men take a few steps forward along with the slow-moving car in order to take a next to ul-Haq.
The car is then followed by a procession of vehicles carrying heavily-armed fighters, some flying the Taliban’s flag.
A video appears to show top bin Laden deputy Amin ul-Haq’s return to his home town 20 years after he fled US forces
Asked about ul-Haq’s return to Afghanistan, the Pentagon told DailyMail.com that it does not comment on intelligence matters.
His return in the last hours of the US withdrawal effort comes after roughly 122,300 people were evacuated since the end of July. Approximately 1,200 people were evacuated on US military and coalition flights as of Monday, bringing the total number of people moved out of Kabul since the Taliban’s takeover to 116,700.
The US Treasury added ul-Haq to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2001. He’s also sanctioned by the United Nations and the United Kingdom.
Since the militant group’s takeover, concerns have arisen that it would turn the country into a ripe environment for other terrorist organizations to grow.
Intelligence reports estimated an Al Qaeda resurgence within 18 to 24 months after the US withdrawal.
‘It is virtually certain that Al Qaeda will reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan and use it to plot terrorism against the United States and others,’ former State Department coordinator Nathan Sales told the New York Times.
Ul-Haq (left) headed Osama bin Laden’s security operation in the Tora Bora mountain complex until the two men fled together after US forces attacked
Days after Kabul fell to the Taliban, Biden inaccurately claimed Al Qaeda is ‘gone’ from Afghanistan.
‘What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as – as well as – getting Osama bin Laden. And we did,’ the president said at the White House on August 20.
Biden was directly contradicted by his own Defense Department a short while later. Spokesman John Kirby said after his remarks that Al Qaeda’s presence in the region isn’t ‘significant enough to merit a threat to our homeland’ compared to its numbers in 2001.
A United Nations report from June estimated there were several dozen to 500 Al Qaeda-affiliated individuals, with most ‘core membership’ existing outside of Afghanistan.
The report also notes that while communication between Al Qaeda and Taliban was infrequent at the time, one UN member state claimed there was ‘regular communication’ related to the Taliban’s peace talks with the Trump administration.
In the February 2020 Doha agreement negotiated by Trump, the Taliban promised it would ‘not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including Al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.’
Joe Biden incorrectly said Al Qaeda was ‘gone’ in remarks on August 20
Ul-Haq’s return comes in the final hours of the US evacuation from Afghanistan
In return the group secured the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners against the wishes of the Afghan government and Trump agreed to withdraw troops by May 1.
But based on the Monday video of ul-Haq’s return the militants seemed to encourage and even celebrate the Islamist figure’s homecoming.
Ul-Haq had been a member of Hizb-i Islami Khalis, one of seven groups that fought against the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan.
He was detained by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in 2008 but released in 2011, according to the Daily Telegraph – roughly half a year after bin Laden was killed.
‘Amin al-Haq had been arrested mistakenly, therefore, the police failed to prove any charge of his association with Osama bin Laden and the court set him free,’ a security source told the outlet.