Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP lawmakers urge Blinken to designate Taliban a terrorist organization

 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 30

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a July news conference at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced resolutions Tuesday calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate the Taliban as a terrorist organization and freeze all Afghanistan government assets held in the U.S.

Why it matters: Then-President George W. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 listing the Taliban as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity." But the group doesn't appear on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

  • Bush's order is "narrowly focused on financial transactions, lacking the teeth" of an FTO listing, per AFP.
  • Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI for terrorism offenses and is the leader of the Haqqani network — designated an FTO by the U.S. — is the all-male interim Afghan government's acting interior minister.

What they're saying: Graham said in a statement that designating the Taliban as an FTO would "make it harder for 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.
  • Waltz added in the joint statement that the Taliban "continue to engage in terrorist activity, harbor other terrorist groups, commit human rights atrocities, deny women their basic civil liberties, and overthrew a democratically elected government."

The other side: A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement it wouldn't comment on the pending legislation, but noted that the U.S. had since amended Bush's order "by adding the Taliban to the annex of certain designated individuals and entities."

Editor's note: The secretary of State's first name was corrected to Antony Blinken.

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