In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, along with several other senators, reminded the administration that the “current version of the Taliban government presents a significant threat to the United States.”
“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 — including Ernst and Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. — wrote.
The lawmakers pointed to the Taliban’s recent appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an Islamic militant wanted by the FBI, to be its acting interior minister.
Haqqani leads the Haqqani network, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 2012. He is also believed to be holding at least one American hostage.
“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. Further, the Taliban display the will and the means to attack Americans and American interests,” the senators added.
Two other Republican lawmakers — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla. — also introduced resolutions in their respective chambers to force Blinken to designate the Taliban as a terrorist organization and freeze all Afghanistan government assets if he is not willing to voluntarily do so.
This step is necessary, Graham argued, because the terrorist organization label would make it more difficult for other countries “to provide them aid and recognition.”
“We would be sending a strong signal that America does not do business with terrorist groups and their sympathizers,” he said in a statement.
Another bill, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would force Blinken to not only label the Taliban a terrorist organization, but also designate its government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Former president George W. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 listing the Taliban as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity,” but the State Department has yet to add the group to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).