The Taliban has told its members to avoid recruiting or harboring foreign fighters amid doubts about the militants' commitment to a deal reached with the United States last year that provided for severing links to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.
“All chiefs and mujahedin are directed to avoid arbitrary moves to bring in foreign nationals into their ranks or harbor them,” the Taliban said in a statement on February 23.
The group warned its fighters that anyone who makes such an attempt will be removed from their assignments, their group will be dissolved, “and will be referred to the military affairs commission for further punishment.”
Under a U.S.-Taliban deal reached in February last year, all foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the militant group, including severing ties with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group and refusing to harbor any foreign terrorists.
But the militants have been under criticism by Afghan and U.S. officials for continuing their ties with terrorist groups, in particular with Al-Qaeda. The Taliban has denied the accusations.
“We believe that the top leadership of Al-Qaeda is still under Taliban protection,” Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator of the UN's Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, said earlier this month.
According to the UN monitoring team’s report last month, there are 200 to 500 Al-Qaeda fighters across about 11 Afghan provinces.
The Taliban's move comes as peace talks between the group and Afghan government resumed on February 22 in Qatar after a hiatus of more than one month.