Al Qaeda back in Afghanistan: Bin Laden security chief Amin RETURNS after 20 years as US pulls out

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 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.

Flights will continue on Monday – 17 jets are expected to take more than 3,000 people out of Kabul, the majority of whom are Afghan. 

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.

Amin ul-Haq is a prominent figure within Al Qaeda

Ul-Haq led bin Laden's security in Al Qaeda's Tora Bora mountain complex

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

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

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. 

There are now just under 30 hours until the Taliban’s deadline of midnight, local time, on Tuesday night for the US to leave completely. Last week, Taliban spokesman Dr. Suhail Shaheen said there ‘will be consequences’ if Biden doesn’t honor it.

The mission is growing ever more dangerous. On Thursday, ISIS-K killed 169 people, including 13 US troops, in a suicide bomb attack at the airport.

In retaliation, the US launched a drone strike on Sunday to kill the bombers responsible but 10 civilians – including seven kids – were also killed, according to The New York Times.

Pentagon officials are refusing to confirm or deny the civilian attacks and they also won’t name the terrorists who were reportedly killed either.  

Biden, who has been admonished for his handling of the withdrawal of troops, said another attack was ‘highly likely’ before the US completely pulled out.

The rockets on Monday came from a car parked on a residential street next to the airport.

It had been modified as a rocket launcher, and there were six homemade rocket tubes mounted in the place of backseats.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that the final days of the rescue mission would focus on getting troops and equipment out of the area. It’s unclear how how many more civilian flights will leave.

Senior officials said the U.S. has the capacity to evacuate U.S. citizens remaining in Afghanistan who want to leave before Biden’s Tuesday deadline.

A Taliban fighter investigates a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

A Taliban fighter investigates a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

The rockets targeted the airport on Monday morning s the final US flights took off from Kabul. Other Western nations have now left the region because it is too dangerous to stay

The rockets targeted the airport on Monday morning s the final US flights took off from Kabul. Other Western nations have now left the region because it is too dangerous to stay

‘This is the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission these last couple of days,’ America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Sunday not long before confirmation of the drone strike in Kabul.  

Five rockets were launched at Hamid Karzai Airport on Monday morning from a sedan parked nearby. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they used Katyusha rockets against the US troops still on the ground.

No one is believed to have been killed in the attack; the US Army’s C-RAM missile defense system took out just one of the five rockets – a 20 percent success rate.

Three missed the airfield and one landed inside but Pentagon officials said it had ‘no effect’ on the evacuation flights.

The weapon defense system features a radar-controlled, rapid fire 20mm gun positioned atop a swiveling base on top of a trailer. It can be fired remotely and fires 4,500 rounds per minute.

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