Official: Taliban, al-Qaida links strong

Aug. 7, 2009 at 12:58 AM

NEW YORK, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The links between al-Qaida and the Taliban are strong even though their objectives are different, says a U.N. expert on terrorism.

"The Taliban objectives are very local, whether they are on the Afghan side of the border or the Pakistan side of the border," Richard Barrett, chief of the U.N. al-Qaida-Taliban Monitoring Team, told the Chinese official Xinhua news agency in an interview.

"But the al-Qaida objectives are global and therefore, they are not inseparable," he said. "You can persuade the Taliban that they can achieve their local objectives better without providing any help to al-Qaida and that has to be the bottom line."

Barrett said the two groups have "shared misfortune" after they were both thrown out of Afghanistan in 2001.

He said the Taliban on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border get "some sort of kudos and standing and certainly more international coverage in the news" because of their association with al-Qaida.

"For the moment, I can see that that alliance may last," Barrett said.

"I don't imagine that the military will be able to kick them out completely, but if the tribes people decide, 'no, they're not in our interest to be here,' then they've got a real existential problem. They haven't a base anymore," Barrett said.

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