This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress is the 4th report on Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES) and the 30th quarterly report detailing Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS). The report summarizes significant events involving OES and OFS and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report covers the period from July 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022.
A U.S. airstrike killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, at his house in Kabul during the quarter. The presence of this key terrorist figure living at a house owned by a senior Taliban official, in an upscale neighborhood of the nation’s capital, raised serious concerns about the Taliban’s commitment to not allow Afghanistan to become a place from which terrorists can threaten the United States and its interests.
During the quarter, the Taliban continued to fight ISIS-Khorasan, the Afghan branch of ISIS and a significant terrorist threat in Afghanistan. Its suicide bombings, ambushes, and assassinations routinely target Taliban officials, religious minorities, and foreign interests. Taliban relations with al-Qaeda appeared to remain cordial.
The U.S. Government has yet to recognize any government in Afghanistan, but it continued to engage with the Taliban, especially on matters relating to the increasingly grave humanitarian situation resulting from conflict, economic instability, disease, and natural disasters. On September 19, these engagements resulted in the release of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. citizen held hostage by the Taliban for nearly 3 years, in exchange for an Afghan warlord who had been serving a life sentence in a U.S. Federal prison since 2005.
The DoD continued to close out contracts related to the OFS mission, which ended on September 30, 2021. While this is the last Lead IG report on OFS, the DoD OIG will continue to conduct oversight of the OFS contracts closeout process pursuant to its statutory authorities.
Lead IG and partner agencies continued to conduct oversight projects related to these operations following the U.S. withdrawal and from Afghanistan. During the quarter, the Lead IG agencies issued 11 reports and had 27 projects ongoing.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, DoS OIG, and U.S. Agency for International Development OIG—to work together to develop and carry out joint, comprehensive, and strategic oversight. Each IG retains statutory independence, but together they apply their extensive regional experience and in-depth institutional knowledge to conduct whole-of-government oversight of these overseas contingency operations.