Representatives for al Qaeda said the "war against the U.S. will be continuing on all other fronts” amid the Biden administration's removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Two al Qaeda operatives said in an exclusive interview with CNN that the U.S. will continue to face pushback “unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world."
The interview, which was conducted through intermediaries, marks a rare direct response from the insurgent network, which usually communicates through self-produced propaganda.
The remarks also come ahead of this weekend’s 10th anniversary of the U.S. Seal Team 6 operation that killed Osama bin Laden, one of the founders of al Qaeda and the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The two members of al Qaeda's subcontinent broadcast branch who spoke to CNN said the group is planning to make a comeback by partnering with the Taliban.
One spokesperson commended the Taliban, telling CNN, "Thanks to Afghans for the protection of comrades-in-arms, many such jihadi fronts have been successfully operating in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time.”
The Taliban did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the nature of its current relationship with al Qaeda.
The comments from the terrorist organization come after the White House confirmed Thursday that the U.S. had officially begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. President Biden ordered all U.S. troops to be out of the country by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year.
Biden has previously stated that the drawdown could begin by Saturday, which was the initial deadline for a complete U.S. withdrawal under a Trump administration agreement with the Taliban.
The Taliban has largely refrained from attacks on the U.S. and coalition forces since the agreement was reached. However, the group had threatened to resume attacks if the U.S. did not meet the initial May 1 withdrawal deadline.
The latest remarks from al Qaeda have now raised questions on the level of communications it had with the Taliban during its negotiations with the U.S.
CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen, who has written several books on bin Laden, pointed to another component of al Qaeda’s remarks to CNN, in which the group said, "At the same time TTP [Pakistani Taliban] and AQ have relations of Islamic brotherhood which was and still intact and same is the case with the Afghan Taliban."
Bergen said this “confirms what the [United Nations] UN has been saying, that, 'the Taliban regularly consulted' with al Qaeda during its negotiations with the United States while guaranteeing that they 'would honor their historical ties' with the terrorist group."
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment on CNN’s report.
In a statement to The Hill, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the department was "Not in the business of commenting on inflammatory propaganda and provocative threats from a foreign terrorist organization."
On Thursday, deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-PierreKarine Jean-PierreThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden comes out swinging in 2022 Biden says he plans to run for reelection in 2024 'if I'm in good health' The Memo: Failure on big bill would spark cascade of trouble for Biden MORE said the U.S. military was taking measures to prepare for the threats of force from the Taliban, including the deployment of B-52 bombers and the extended deployment of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, as well as parts of an Army Ranger task force to help with force protection.