The fall of Afghanistan has emboldened the Haqqani network, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that works hand-in-hand with the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Experts say the withdrawal of U.S. troops has opened the possibility of the terrorist groups obtaining more armaments and sophisticated equipment, beyond the material and weaponry left behind by U.S. forces.
“The acquisition of significant new military capabilities by the Taliban and their subsidiaries such as the Haqqani family is a serious threat to the region and the world, including the U.S.,” warns David Sedney, who served as deputy assistant secretary for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia and the National Security staff in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
“The military capability that the Taliban and their Haqqani subsidiary now possess, combined with their demonstrated willingness to use terrorism against the U.S. and its allies make the Taliban an immediate threat to the security of the region and the world,” he says.
Sources are not only worried about what the Taliban already possess, but the prospect that more material could be delivered to the regime to bolster its military capabilities. For one example, they cite multiple flights that began after the American forces left from the United Arab Emirates.
“There have been a series of rather mysterious flights,” says one source close to the investigation. “They started immediately after the American withdrawal. What is interesting is that the Haqqani network intervened to give the flights the authority to land, and when the cargo was offloaded labeled “UAE Aid,” separately there was a significant amount of other goods that were taken away not by the airport support staff, but by Haqqani network officials. It is something significant, probably not small arms but one possibility is special encryption communication equipment, something so sophisticated that the Haqqanis would want.
The UAE has long been part of an international effort to stabilize Afghanistan, including moves to disrupt Taliban-related financial support that could benefit the Haqqani network. The U.S. ally has welcomed thousands of Afghan refugees, including former Afghan President Asraf Ghani and Afghan Air Force pilots.
But for years individuals and private efforts in the UAE have been cited for providing support to the Taliban.
U.S. cables released by Wikileaks said “the Taliban and Haqqani Network are believed to earn money from UAE-based business interests” and that “the Taliban extorts money from UAE-based Afghan businessmen.”
In 2011 the U.S. Treasury Department reported that two years earlier the brother of Haqqani network founder, who is now the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Minister of Refugees, to raise funds for the group.
“Khalil Haqqani had traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates and had raised funds from sources there, as well as from sources in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.”
The UAE recognized the Taliban in 2001, but it was also the only Arab nation to contribute troops to the NATO mission in the country.
The Emirates News Agency WAM reported that the UAE has sent “urgent medical and food aid” to Afghanistan, saying the “assistance comes within the framework of the humanitarian role being played by the UAE to provide full support to brotherly Afghan people in such current circumstances.” It says that “sending planes with humanitarian aid” is part of the government’s efforts that have sent “60 tonnes of basic food supplies, noting the Afghan people are suffering from food scarcity.”
While Sedney says he is unaware of illicit shipments to the Haqqani network from any of the Gulf states, he says that the possibility exists.
“The Taliban intend to create a state of militarized Islam dedicated to spreading their ideology and control,” he warns.
The UAE did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment about the flights.