Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and a group of senators have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking them to designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization. The letter was sent shortly after the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan and resumed the same oppressive habits that characterized their leadership in 2001.
The Taliban were known for their militant attacks, as well as for denying basic health care and educational rights for Afghan citizens, especially women. The senators emphasize how among those who were beaten and pursued by Taliban forces were American citizens and their families. The letter was signed by Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa), Rick Scott (Fla.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
“Since reestablishing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban resumed the same murderous and oppressive habits that characterized their leadership tenure prior to the arrival of U.S. forces in 2001. Even as the administration concluded the withdrawal of American and allied forces from Afghanistan, we saw public attacks on individuals, beatings of women and girls, and search teams actively pursuing allies and partners,” the letter reads.
Top intelligence officials have also suggested that al-Qaeda could resurface in Afghanistan in one to two years, adding how the Taliban just appointed Sirajuddin Haqqani. Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani network and a known terrorist wanted by the FBI for killing American citizens. On top of the Taliban’s increased military capability, their continued employment of those against Americans presents a significant threat to the country and the extent of the law.
During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Blinken talked about the Afghanistan withdrawal and said that the nature of the Taliban’s relationship with the US depends entirely on its “conduct and actions” on freedom of travel, human rights, and counter-terrorism.
Sen. Lindsey Graham and Congressman Michael Waltz have also introduced resolutions that the Taliban should be designated as terrorists. The State Department recognizes al Qaeda and a number of other groups as FTO’s, but the Taliban has yet to make the list. According to the State Department, the listed organizations must engage in terrorist activity that either threatens the security of U.S nationals or the country’s national security.
Sen. Chris Murphy, however, objected to Cotton’s motion that the State Department should designate the Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. He said that Afghanistan has fallen to a “medieval band of degenerate savages known as the Taliban” and that you won’t hear anyone in the government calling the Taliban a terrorist organization.
While the Biden Administration said the Taliban does not meet the test of inclusivity, they don’t seem to care that at least 14 of the Taliban’s 33 so-called cabinet members are on the United Nations sanctions lists for terrorism. There have been at least five Taliban leaders being held as terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.
Sen. Cotton went on to accuse the administration and President Biden for choosing image and public relations over everything else. They want to call the botched withdrawal an “extraordinary success,” so they refuse to call the Taliban terrorists. Cotton called it a “grave insult” to the memory of the Taliban’s victims and the tens of thousands of Americans who fought against it. He said Biden has left a “humanitarian crisis” behind with the chaotic execution from the country.
“It’s worth remembering how many American lives the Taliban took, how many American warriors they maimed, and how many American families they shattered. That’s terrorism,” Cotton said.