The imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is breathing new life into the relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to several Afghan intelligence officials and members of both militant groups who spoke to The Daily Beast.
“The Taliban gained huge respect amongst Islamists worldwide by surviving the U.S.’s longest war,” one intelligence officer and undercover diplomat based in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast. “[The Taliban and al Qaeda] respect each other. If there is no peace and stability in Afghanistan, [they] could be each other’s darlings once again.”
The diplomat isn’t alone in his assessment. Several Afghan officials confirmed to The Daily Beast that al Qaeda is continuing to foster close relations with the Taliban insurgency, despite a U.S.-Taliban deal last year which required the militant group to break all ties with Bin Laden’s insurgency.