Taliban say they didn’t know al-Qaeda chief al-Zawahri was in Afghanistan before US drone strike
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
The Taliban said Thursday they did not know al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was staying in Kabul, four days after he was killed by a US drone strike in the Afghan capital .
In a move to reverse lax comments released by the Taliban on Tuesday after President Biden announced the drone strike on Sunday, the Taliban said they had ordered “investigative and intelligence agencies to conduct serious and thorough investigations into various aspects of the said event”.
The Taliban, who overthrew Afghanistan almost a year ago, condemned the strike for the first time, saying it was a “clear violation of … the Doha Agreement”.
CIA APPROACHED AL-ZAWAHRI ALONE AT HIS BALL AFTER MONTHS OF SURVEILLANCE, BUILDING HIS ‘LIFE PATTERN’
However, under the 2020 Doha Agreement signed by the US and the insurgent group, the Taliban pledged not to allow safe haven for al-Qaeda members or anyone seeking to attack the US.
Al-Zawahri was found to be residing in a Kabul safe house that had links to the Taliban’s deputy leader.
According to US officials, the al-Qaeda leader had been staying at the home of an aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, a top deputy to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibatallah Akhundzada, for months.
Al-Zawahri was killed by a US drone strike after stepping onto a balcony.
JOHN KIRBY DEFENDED FOR COUNTERING CLAIM BIDEN ADMIN GIVEN AFGHANISTAN TO ‘TERRORIST GROUP’
The Taliban claimed in a statement on Thursday that they “have no knowledge of the arrival and residence” of al-Zawahri in Afghanistan.
The statement was issued after Taliban leaders held a high-level meeting on Wednesday, although the details of the meeting remain unclear.
Al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul and the subsequent killing of the al-Qaeda leader have further strained relations between Washington and Kabul as Taliban leaders try to secure international funding to help Afghanistan’s crippling economy .
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The U.S. and the Taliban have also reportedly engaged in recent talks over $3.5 billion worth of Afghan assets that the U.S. froze after the collapse of Ashraf Ghani’s presidency in August 2021.
The Taliban also sought to reassure Washington in its statement on Thursday that “there is no danger from the territory of Afghanistan to any country, including America.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.