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On Friday, the Taliban organized mass protests against U.S. and left-wing President Joe Biden in response to U.S. forces killing al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, over the weekend. al-Zawahiri).

Zawahiri, who took over the terror group after the death of Osama bin Laden, reportedly lived openly for several months in the wealthy district of Sherpur in Kabul. Shortly before Biden’s announcement of the airstrike, the United Nations said in a report that it was “likely” that Taliban terrorists were providing a safe haven for al-Zawahiri.

Biden announced Monday that the drone strike killed al-Zawahiri, causing minimal property damage on his balcony in Shepur and no other casualties.The Taliban, which took over Afghanistan after Biden broke a Trump-era deal that was supposed to end the Afghan war in May, responded to the news by first “strongly condemning”[ing]The airstrikes then claimed that Taliban jihadists had “no information” that al-Zawahiri had entered the country or resided in Kabul. Reports citing unspecified U.S. intelligence suggest the terror leader may have been living prominently in the Taliban capital in addition to Has been living in a house owned by a senior member of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network.

Both the Taliban and al-Qaeda are Sunni jihadist groups with decades of friendly relations. The Trump-era deal between the Taliban and Washington, often referred to as the “Doha deal” because it was brokered by the city, would require the Taliban to sever all ties with al Qaeda and other terror groups.

The Afghan government’s Bakhtar news agency released multiple photos and videos from Kabul, Kandahar and other major Afghan population centers, where large numbers of men gathered to condemn the airstrike on al-Zawahiri. The mob appeared to hold banners with unflattering photos of Joe Biden and chanted anti-American slogans. Bakhtar, the Taliban’s mouthpiece, claimed that “hundreds of thousands” participated in nationwide protests.

Pajhwok, an independent Afghan news agency, list At least nine provinces organized protests against U.S. actions to drive al-Qaeda leaders from the battlefield: Kabul, Farah, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Khost, Badghis, Balkh and Logar, as well as “some others. province”. Its report indicated that the protests appeared to be organized by mosques to follow Friday prayers.

“We ask the US to abandon Afghanistan and leave the country alone; the US has no right to attack our country,” one protester told Pajhwok.

Another participant in the Farah protest, a preacher at a local mosque, appeared to deny completely that the airstrikes took place.

“America should take back the lie; Joe Biden is lying that he made Ayman al-Zawahiri a martyr,” the preacher was quoted as saying.

Afghanistan’s Ariana News, reporting from several concerned cities, noted that some protesters have increased their demands for the US to “abide by the Doha agreement,” echoing the Taliban’s first statement on the airstrikes on Tuesday.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the attack for any reason and says it is a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote in a statement issued on Tuesday. Actions are a repeat of the failures of the past 20 years and are not in the interests of the United States, Afghanistan, and the region. Repeating such actions will damage available opportunities.”

Mujahid himself has declared the Doha deal effectively null and void, following Biden’s unilateral decision to extend the US presence in Afghanistan until May 1, 2021, as agreed by the Trump administration.

Mujahid’s first statement this week did not mention Zawahiri. On Thursday, he issued a second statement on behalf of the Taliban, denying any knowledge of or involvement in the presence of al Qaeda leaders in the Taliban capital.

“Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban] There is no information about the arrival of Ayman al-Zawahiri and his stay in Kabul,” Mujahid said. “The leaders of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have instructed the investigative and intelligence agencies to conduct a full and serious investigation into all aspects of the incident. “

Protests aside, Taliban “defense minister” Mullah Mohammad Yakub Mujahid said in an interview this week that the United States should make out The Taliban serve as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and have urged the American public to pressure their government to support the Taliban.

“There are more countries in the world that pose a greater danger to the U.S. than Afghanistan, yet the U.S. still officially recognizes them. I see this recognition as a positive step toward greater change,” according to Ariana News Afghanistan , Mujahid told NPR.

“I ask the United States to put pressure on the government,” he added, if the obstacle to acknowledgment was a lack of the political capital in the United States to do so.

The Taliban overthrew the U.S.-recognized Afghan government on August 15, 2021, after then-President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan. The Taliban’s conquest of the entire Afghan territory came swiftly after Biden announced he would keep U.S. troops in the country after May 1, in violation of the Doha agreement.

Follow Francis Martel Facebook and Twitter.

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