A top member of al Qaeda and chief aide to Osama bin Laden on Monday returned safely to his home in Afghanistan after years in hiding.
Video footage shows Dr. Amin al-Haq, the former leader of bin Laden’s elite Black Guard, joined by a heavily armed group of Taliban fighters, entering a town in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar Province. The province sits between Pakistan and Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, making it a growing hotspot for Taliban activity.
Al-Haq is a longtime al Qaeda leader whose Black Guard served as the terrorist group’s "praetorian guard designated to protect Osama bin Laden." Guard members took a blood oath to defend bin Laden and were highly trained in combat. The 9/11 architect reportedly hand-picked squad leaders—such as al-Haq—for the guard.
Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of Long War Journal, said the video shows increasing ambition from al Qaeda operatives since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
"The video of al-Haq is evidence that al Qaeda commanders now feel secure enough to appear publicly in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan," Roggio wrote. "The confidence to travel and operate out in the open—in plain sight for the first time in a decade—speaks to the marked change in Afghanistan over the last month."
The Taliban continues to work with al Qaeda-linked terrorists, raising concern about the deadly terrorist group’s threat to the United States. The Haqqani network is responsible for deadly attacks in Afghanistan and abroad that have resulted in U.S. troop casualties.
"The Haqqanis expose the lie that there is a line between Taliban and other jihadist groups, especially al Qaeda," said H.R. McMaster, the Trump administration's national security adviser.