Senate Republicans urge Blinken to designate Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization
In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, raised concerns over the Taliban‘s murderous history and the recent appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the terrorist Haqqani Network, as its interior minister.
“Given their history supporting terror attacks against the United States, our brutal style of governance and their continued display of atrocities towards Americans and our allies and now, with their enhanced military capabilities, the current Taliban government presents a significant danger to the United States,” they wrote.
The Taliban‘s appointment last week of Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI in the murder of U.S. citizens, raised eyebrows in the international community, as the Taliban has sought to portray a more refined image since taking power in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration stated that it does not intend to recognize the Taliban government of Afghanistan in the near future, even though it coordinated with the group during the evacuations of U.S citizens as well as Afghan refugees.
However, such a designation could make it difficult for international decisions about whether to lift sanctions to allow humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. This is one of America’s last leverage points.
The lawmakers say they are unconvinced by the Taliban‘s promises to govern in a way that aligns with international norms.
“Even though the administration ended the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, we witnessed public attacks against individuals, beatings and search teams actively seeking allies and partners,” said the lawmakers.
“The most concerning thing to us was that among those beaten by Taliban troops were American citizens and their families who still reside in Afghanistan,” they wrote.
Other Republican lawmakers, including Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and Rep. Mike Waltz, of Florida, introduced resolutions Tuesday to declare the Taliban a foreign terrorist organisation.
If the Administration wants to gain any credibility after the catastrophe they created in Afghanistan, they need to take the initiative to officially name the Taliban “a Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Mr. Waltz stated in a statement.
The lawmakers’ calls are coming just one week after the Taliban established its interim government in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal at August’s end.
The letter comes after Mr. Blinken’s testimony before the House and Senate panel, which marked the beginning of a series oversight hearings into the withdrawal.