The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On April 28, 2021, the religious official of Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) published a post on his Telegram channel commenting on the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.
Abu Mariyah Al-Qahtani began his post by congratulating the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and highlighting the group's long journey toward this outcome, which included fighting with rival groups.
"They are congratulating the Taliban for their victories, and I do too. However, the Taliban accomplished this after exerting tremendous effort, and taking on other groups that did not want to join them [the Taliban]. The credit goes to Allah, then to the Afghan people, who sacrificed their sons. The Taliban fought against rebel movements, the agents of the occupiers, and managed to cleanse the area of corruption. [The Taliban] did not allow extremists and the agents of the oppressors to mislead young Afghans," he said.
Drawing a parallel between the Afghan Taliban and jihadi groups operating in Syria, the cleric emphasized that there are Sunni groups in Syria that are following the model set by the Afghan Taliban, naming HTS and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) as examples of such "strong" Sunni groups. He wrote:
"The Taliban is a Sunni movement, and I'm proud of this movement. The Taliban is a Muslim group, which I love, and I also love its leaders and fighters. Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham is a Sunni movement which I love, and I also love its leaders and fighters. This is not prejudice against [Afghan] Taliban fighters, who are foreigners and I am an Arab. The same can be said of Hay'at [HTS], which is a Syrian Sunni movement, and the Turkistan Islamic Party, who are foreigners, but I love and respect them, because they are Sunni people. I love all the mujahedeen in Syria and Afghanistan."
Al-Qahtani concluded by explaining that while he admires all mujahideen in Syria and Afghanistan, "only the strongest faction should receive credit for its accomplishments and be forgiven for its mistakes."
 Telegram, Taoaag, April 28, 2021.