In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, raised concerns over the Taliban’s murderous history and the recent appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the terrorist Haqqani Network, as its interior minister.
“Given their history of supporting terror attacks on the United States, their brutal style of governance, their continued display of atrocities against Americans and our allies, and now, their enhanced military capability, the current version of the Taliban government presents a significant threat to the United States,” the lawmakers wrote.
The Taliban’s appointment last week of Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI in the murder of U.S. citizens, raised eyebrows in the international community, as the Taliban has sought to portray a more refined image since taking power in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has said it has no plans to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government in the near future, despite coordinating with the group during the evacuation of U.S citizens and Afghan refugees.
Still, such a designation could complicate international decisions on whether to lift sanctions to extend humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — one of America’s few remaining sources of leverage on the group.
The lawmakers say they are unconvinced by the Taliban’s promises to govern in a way that aligns with international norms.