After a weekend U.S. drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahri, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban “grossly violated” the February 2020 Doha Agreement that led to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by sheltering the longtime al Qaeda leader and successor to Osama bin Laden.
By allowing al-Zawahri to live in a safe house in the heart of downtown Kabul, the Taliban rulers reneged on their “repeated assurances” that they wouldn’t allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists intent on threatening the security of other countries, Mr. Blinken said Tuesday.
“They also betrayed the Afghan people and their own stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement. “In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially women and girls.”
A Taliban spokesman said it was the U.S. that had violated the Doha pact negotiated by the Trump administration with the drone strike, saying they “strongly condemn” the attack that was launched by the CIA. Under the deal, the U.S. promised to withdraw its troops from the country in exchange for Taliban promises that the government would crack down on terror groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State and not let the country be used as a staging ground for attacks on the U.S.
The target of the U.S. drone strike was a former Egyptian surgeon who helped coordinate the attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in August 1998 and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. that killed nearly 3,000 people. Al-Zawahri had a $25 million bounty on his head.