Ata Mohammad Noor believes the Islamist extremists are planning to use his former home as a base from which to train and prepare for atrocities on foreign soil – just as they did before the attacks on the World Trade Centres in New York 22 years ago, in which nearly 3,000 people died.
Mr Noor, a former Governor of Balkh Province who quit the country after the Taliban’s return to power two years ago, said the world ignored the rising threat at its peril.
He explained: “The Taliban’s history of supporting terrorism is on repeat, with al-Qaeda once more scheming to train, plot and prepare for international operations from inside Afghanistan.
“The world is sleepwalking into another nightmare like 9/11.”
The Taliban, as a recognised terrorist organisation, had a proven track record of supporting militant extremism, not just within the borders of Afghanistan but beyond, Mr Noor pointed out.
He explained: “Nobody needs reminding of how the Taliban’s first regime, 1996 to 2001, allowed al-Qaeda to prepare, plot and launch attacks against the West from within Afghanistan, most tragically the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
“Since regaining power in 2021 the Taliban continued the same pattern of behaviour, even allowing al-Qaeda to return to Kabul under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader who replaced Osama bin Laden.”
AL-Zawahiri was killed by a US drone strike last year in Kabul.
The decision flew in the face of assurances by Taliban leaders that they would not permit international terrorists to operate on Afghan soil, Mr Noor stressed.
He said: “Our sources tell us the Taliban is actively involved with at least 22 international terrorist groups.
“Some of these operate within Afghanistan, some across the border in regional neighbours such as Uzbekistan.
“But we are convinced the Taliban represents a clear and present danger to the entire world, with its toleration of extremism that we know seeks to attack and destroy the most high-profile targets.
“The developed West, with its modernity, freedoms and inclusivity, knows full well it is the target of this sort of backward looking hatred.”
The internationally-recognised Islamic Republic of Afghanistan collapsed after the Taliban seized Kabul in August 2021, and no nation has yet established formal diplomatic ties with its successor, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Legitimising the Taliban through any sort of international recognition would represent a betrayal of the principles, values and morals of the developed world, Mr Noor added.
He continued: “The greatest achievements of modern development – the creation of nation states built on cooperation not coercion, willing productive participation of the many not repression by the few – would be denied to 40 million Afghans.
“It would create a cruel double standard where a commitment to liberty and rights would be shown up not as fundamental principle but as a meaningless slogan.
“And it would be a short-term solution that guarantees a long-term disaster.”
The Taliban was committed to a way of life “fundamentally at odds with the West”, Mr Noor fears.
He said: “To ignore the lessons from 1996-2001, to a regime that fomented violence, instability and, ultimately, terrorist atrocities would be the height of folly.
“In 2021 some western observers argued the Taliban had changed. Women’s rights were to be protected, international extremists would not longer be tolerated, the gullible believed.
“We know this leopard has not changed its spots. The stakes are too high for the West to trust the Taliban.”
Source : Express