WASHINGTON – Two amendments introduced by Rep. Jim Banks will hold the Biden administration accountable to countering the threat posed by the Taliban were passed by the House Armed Services Committee and added to the annual defense bill.
Banks said: “Because of Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal, the Taliban controls Afghanistan and billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment. The president has reason to present the Taliban in the rosiest light possible. But the withdrawal was a disaster precisely because the Taliban is a terrorist organization that’s responsible for thousands of American deaths and can’t be trusted. Congress must obtain reliable information about the terrorist threat now posed by the Taliban in the dangerous aftermath caused by Joe Biden’s incompetence. ”
(An amendment to study the Taliban’s relationships with terrorists) Rep. Banks’ first amendment directs the Department of Defense to assess the Taliban’s relationship with Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
Background: The Taliban is not currently designated as an FTO, although its long-time partners, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Al-Haqqani network, and Al-Qaeda are all designated FTOs.
Today, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated that it was “possible” the U.S. military will coordinate counter-terrorism efforts with the Taliban. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan previously stated that, “When it comes to our economic and development assistance relationship with the Taliban, that will be about the Taliban’s actions.” Secretary of state Antony Blinken has said that "any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned," by the Taliban.
In light of the Biden administration’s receptiveness and willingness to cede legitimacy to the Taliban, it is essential for Congress to receive a full accounting of the Taliban’s current relationship with Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
(An amendment to assess the Taliban’s wealth) Rep. Banks’ second amendment directs the Department of Defense to assess the Taliban’s access to rare earth minerals, financial resources, and United States military equipment, to Congress no later than March 1, 2022.
Background: The Biden administration left an estimated 22,174 Humvees, 8,000 trucks, 16,035 night vision goggles, 358,530 assault rifles, and billion of dollars in other military equipment in Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Biden administration admitted that it doesn’t know how much U.S. military equipment is now in the hands of the Taliban.
There are an estimated $1 Trillion worth of minerals in Afghanistan, including what is possibly the world’s largest deposit of lithium, which is an essential component in electric vehicles. China, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicle components, shares a land border with Afghanistan and a state-owned firm previously pursued a $3 billion contract to mine copper in Afghanistan. The Biden administration aims to make half of all new vehicles purchased in the U.S. electric by 2030, according to a recent Executive Order.