GOP senators seek foreign terror designation for the Taliban

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GOP senators seek foreign terror designation for the Taliban

A number of Republicans are urging the Biden administration ​to designate the Taliban, the jihadist militant group that now controls Afghanistan, a foreign terrorist organization, according to reports. 

Sen. Ernst (R-Iowa) asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make the designation in a letter signed by GOP Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama​, Fox News reported on Wednesday. 

“Since reestablishing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban resumed the same murderous and oppressive habits that characterized their leadership tenure prior to the arrival of U.S. forces in 2001,” the senators wrote​ in the letter obtained by Fox News​.

“Even as the administration concluded the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan, we saw public attacks on individuals, beatings of women and girls, and search teams actively pursuing allies and partners,” the letter says.

T​hey say that the most troubling aspect of the fall of Afghanistan “i​s ​that among those beaten and chased by Taliban forces were American citizens and their families still living in Afghanistan.”​

Sen. Rubio (R-Fla.) is expected to introduce legislation​ on Wednesday demanding that Biden administration and Congress designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization and the newly installed Afghan government a state sponsor of terrorism, Fox News reported.

The legislation, according to the report, would ban federal departments and agencies from recognizing the Taliban’s claim of sovereignty over Afghanistan.

Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL
Sen. Rubio is expected to introduce legislation​ on Wednesday.
GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

It would also compel the State Department to put together an annual report on the countries that have “diplomatic relations” with the Taliban and whether any foreign persons “knowingly” give aid to the jihadist group.

The measure would also require the US Treasury Department to slap sanctions on individuals who provide assistance to the Taliban.

Rubio’s legislation is supported by GOP Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Cynthis Lummis of Wyoming and Tuberville. 

The State Department has designated al Qaeda as a foreign terrorist organization, but not the Taliban. 

HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images
The measure would also require the US Treasury Department to slap sanctions on individuals who provide assistance to the Taliban.
HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images

In Ernst’s letter, the senators point out that Sirajuddin Haqqani, a terrorist wanted by the FBI for killing Americans, has been appointed interior minister by the Taliban in its new government. 

“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​,” they write.

​”We ​… urge you to consider designating the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization and treating them as such to the maximum extent of the law​,” the letter says. ​

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Blinken said Monday the Taliban needs to allow freedom of travel “if they want to seek any legitimacy.”
MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Blinken was asked about whether the administration would recognize the Taliban during a House hearing on Monday.

“If they want to seek any legitimacy, or any support, it starts with freedom of travel,” ​he said, noting that charter flights have still not been allowed to leave Mazar-i-Sharif airport.

He also said that the Taliban would have to follow through on their commitments to not allow terror groups to use Afghanistan as a base, as al Qaeda did while plotting the 9/11 attacks. 

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