Osama's former bodyguard returns to Afghanistan: Who Amin-al-Haq is and what his return means
In what could be deemed as a signal of growing ties between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Amin-al-Haq returned to his hometown of Nangrahar to cheers from his supporters
Amin-al-Haq, who coordinated security for Osama bin Laden, according to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has been filmed returning to his home in Nangahar, Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover of the country.
The footage of ul-Haq shows the ex-Al Qaeda operative arriving home with an entourage of armed fighters in vehicles.
Dr. Amin-ul-Haq, a major al-Qaeda player in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden security in charge in Tora Bora, returns to his native Nangarhar province after it fell to the Taliban. Dr. Amin became close to OBL in the 80s when he worked with Abdullah Azzam in Maktaba Akhidmat. pic.twitter.com/IXbZeJ0nZE
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 30, 2021
The video, which was posted by Bilal Siwary, an Afghan journalist working in the UK, has raised fears that the country is poised to again become the global epicentre of Islamist terrorism.
Who is Amin-ul-Haq?
Born in 1960 in Afghanistan's Nangrahar, Amin is a doctor by profession. As per the LA Times, he is 'a urologist'.
Amin began his career as a jihadist as a member of the Hizb-i Islami Khalis, a faction of the Hizb-i-Islami group that was founded by Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after Al-Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996.
He also served as the security coordinator of the Black Guard, the elite unit responsible for protecting bin Laden; many referred to him as Osama’s bodyguard.
As per reports, Amin accompanied Osama during the 2001 battle at Tora Bora in Nangarhar province. He also helped the former Al Qaeda chief and other senior leaders escape the US and Afghan militia assault on the cave complex and flee to Pakistan.
In 2008, he was detained by Pakistani security forces in the city of Lahore and kept in a prison in Peshawar. However, in 2011, Pakistan controversially freed him, citing insufficient evidence.
At the time, two senior Pakistani police officials had told US news channel CBS that Amin was not a “key player” and “had no information of great value”.
“Eventually there was nothing that could be used to keep holding him in custody,” said one of the officials.
The Telegraph reporting on the same, had said, "Amin al-Haq had been arrested mistakenly, therefore, the police failed to prove any charge of his association with Osama bin Laden and the court set him free."
Amin also faces sanctions from the United Nations for participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities in support of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda as well as supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to support terror activities.
Resurgence of AlQaeda
It was not immediately clear if al-Haq was returning to his home in eastern Afghanistan for the first time, or if he has been in Afghanistan the entire time since being released.
Some US analysts say it is telling that he so quickly resurfaced in Afghanistan and that he and his supporters are comfortable being seen in public.
“The confidence to travel and operate out in the open, in plain sight for the first time in a decade, speaks to the marked change in Afghanistan over the last month,” Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who closely tracks the war in Afghanistan, wrote in an analysis late Monday.
Experts have warned that the Taliban takeover would also mean a resurgence of Al Qaeda, even though the militant collective has vowed that they wouldn't allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terror groups.
It is left to be seen if the Taliban keeps to its word, but if the video of Amin resurfacing in Afghanistan is anything to go by then it is safe to say that terror will rear its ugly head once again.
With inputs from agencies
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