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UN Experts: ‘Terrorist Groups’ Enjoy Freedom In Afghanistan

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Associated Press

UN Experts: ‘Terrorist Groups’ Enjoy Freedom In Afghanistan

By EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Al-Qaida’s past ties to the recently empowered Taliban have the potential of making Afghanistan a safe haven for extremists, and “terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history,” U.N. experts said in a report circulated Monday.

In the wide-ranging report, the experts also said extremists linked to both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are successfully advancing in Africa, especially in the turbulent Sahel. And they said the Islamic State continues to operate “as an entrenched rural insurgency” in Iraq and Syria, where its so-called caliphate ruled a significant swathe of the two countries from 2014-2017 when it was defeated by Iraqi forces and a U.S.-led coalition.

In what it called “a bright spot” in Southeast Asia, the panel of experts said both Indonesia and the Philippines reported “significant gains” in disrupting Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated “terrorism” and “some optimism” that their operational capability “may be significantly degraded.”

The report to the U.N. Security Council by the panel of experts monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida and the Islamic State, also known as IS and ISIL, called the Taliban’s return to power on Aug. 15 amid the chaotic final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops after 20 years the most significant event of the last six months of 2021.

The Taliban first ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001 and were ousted for harboring al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden for masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2001. In a February 2020 deal that spelled out the terms of the U.S. troop withdrawal, the Taliban had promised to fight terrorism and deny terrorist groups a safe haven in Afghanistan.

But the panel of experts said “there are no recent signs that the Taliban has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist fighters in the country.” On the contrary, it said, terrorist groups are enjoying “greater freedom,” though member states “have not reported significant new movements of foreign terrorist fighters to Afghanistan.”

Full story https://apnews.com/article/islamic-state-group-afghanistan-asia-united-nations-syria-55a15d0a370f657aa60ccc1282b603c6

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