What the killing of al-Zawahiri reveals
The killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawah-iri in a United States (US) drone strike in a Kabul neighbourhood long favoured by warlords underscores the Taliban regime’s failure to deliver on counter-terrorism commitments. The Taliban confirmed the drone strike shortly before US President Joe Biden announced the killing of Zawahiri, but was silent on the target of the attack and only spoke of how it violated the Doha Agreement. It is the same Doha Agreement, a flawed pact that set up the Taliban’s return to power, which makes the Taliban responsible for ensuring that all terror groups do not use Afghan soil to threaten the security of other countries. In recent months, the Taliban has highlighted a so-called improvement in Afghanistan’s security situation to press for the release of the country’s assets frozen around the world. However, the group has rarely spoken about its commitments to root out the numerous terrorist organisations operating from Afghan soil.
Zawahiri may not have represented a potent threat to global security at the time of his death, but he had a hand in several attacks, including 9/11, and remained a rallying figure for jihadi elements. One of his last messages was a video centred around the hijab controversy in Karnataka that urged Muslims to fight a so-called assault on Islam. With no viable alternative on Afghanistan’s horizon, India must continue working with global and regional partners to push the Taliban to deliver on its counter-terrorism commitments to ensure Afghanistan doesn’t again become “jihad central”.