I’m at an AEI conference right now, way too early for a Monday morning — ah, and here’s Michele Flournoy, so I’ve got to wrap this post up already — but Leah Farrall has a great op-ed today summing up her recent exchange with the legendary takfiri fighter Abu Walid. The beating heart of her point:
In his most recent letter to me, where he responded to an article I wrote for The Australian on al-Qa’ida’s Afghanistan strategy, he dropped the loudest bomb of all. He tells me the Taliban will no longer welcome al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan. Their return would make matters more complicated for the Taliban because “the majority of the population is against al-Qa’ida”.
According to Abu Walid, the differences between al-Qa’ida and the Taliban are greater now than they were before the war. Not only is al-Qa’ida unwelcome in Afghanistan but so are other salafist groups who previously operated in the country.
He believes that disassociation is required. He tells me “if the link between the Taliban and al-Qa’ida is not broken the results will be bad for the Taliban and Afghanistan”. And he thinks that the Taliban should also move away from the salafist movement so it can be liberated “from all of the restrictions that hinder its political options”.
Update: My ignorance; as you can tell from Leah’s piece, Abu Walid is against Takfiris. I was trying to avoid the word “jihadist” because of the unfortunate linguistic honor it gives the undeserving. This is a case where that effort has gone wrong.