Eliminating the threat from al-Qaeda by smashing their training bases in Afghanistan as well as removing the Taliban regime that had provided them sanctuary was the driving force for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks in October of 2001. President George W. Bush had vowed to hunt the militants until there was “no place to run, or hide, or rest.”

But after nearly two decades of constant combat, the American people and their government have grown weary of what is being characterized as a “forever war.” President Trump wants the troops out of Afghanistan and was pushing for a deal to be reached, even inviting the Taliban to Camp David.

Finally, a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban was reached. According to it, the U.S. will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan early next year in exchange for the Taliban ensuring that terrorist groups will not be able to use Afghan territory to plot international attacks.

Yet, the Taliban are not living up to that condition. This was exemplified in the case of Husam Abd al-Rauf, a high-ranking Egyptian al-Qaeda member believed in some circles to the number two leader of the terror organization. Al-Rauf was killed by Afghan Special Forces in an operation in Ghazni province a week ago. He was in the village of Kunsaf, which was under Taliban control. Afghan officials believe that the Taliban were providing security for him. 

If indeed the Taliban had been providing security for al-Rauf, it would be in contravention of their agreement with the U.S. The Taliban said that they were “investigating the situation.”

However, al-Rauf is not alone. Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is still believed to be based in Afghanistan along with a number of the group’s other senior figures. As tellingly, a year ago, al-Qaeda itself promoted a video of an ambush it carried out, in support of the Taliban, against Afghan government forces.

The BBC recently spoke with Edmund Fitton-Brown, the coordinator of the UN’s Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team. Fitton-Brown said that the Taliban promised al-Qaeda, as they neared the agreement with Washington, that the two groups would remain allies.

“The Taliban were talking regularly and at a high level with al-Qaeda and reassuring them that they would honor their historic ties.”