GOP lawmakers urge State Department to designate the Taliban a terrorist organization

GOP lawmakers urge State Department to designate the Taliban a terrorist organization
© Greg Nash

Two Republican lawmakers are calling on the State Department to designate the Taliban a terrorist organization as the extremist group forms a government in Afghanistan following last month's withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) each introduced a resolution Tuesday saying that in addition to the designation, the State Department should freeze all Afghan government assets held in the U.S. and work to ensure that other countries take similar steps.

The resolutions also call on the department to declare the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan a “coup d’etat,” and use its “authority and influence” to urge international institutions and organizations to refuse the Taliban access to funds.

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Graham said designating the Taliban as a terrorist organization will “make it harder for countries to provide them aid and recognition.”

“We would be sending a strong signal that America does not do business with terrorist groups and their sympathizers. The Taliban are radical jihadists in every sense of the word and use terror as their tactic,” he added in a statement.

Waltz, in announcing his resolution, said the Biden administration has “misled the American public by attempting to normalize the Taliban as a transitional government.”

“But the Taliban continue to engage in terrorist activity, harbor other terrorist groups, commit human rights atrocities, deny women their basic civil liberties, and overthrew a democratically elected government,” Waltz said in a statement.

“If this Administration wants to regain any credibility by the disaster they’ve created in Afghanistan, they must take the step to officially designate the Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” he added.

When reached for comment, a State Department spokesperson noted that former President George W. Bush in July 2002 officially labeled the Taliban as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

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But the Taliban is not on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The resolutions come a week after the Taliban announced its interim Afghan government, which includes hard-line leaders from their previous reign in the late 1990s. No women are part of the interim government.

Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is on the FBI’s most wanted list.