(FiveNation.com)- On Wednesday, Senate Republicans led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced the Preventing Recognition of Terrorist States Act which directs the Secretary of State to designate the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” as a state sponsor of terrorism and the Taliban a terrorist organization.
The bill would prohibit federal departments and agencies from taking any action that either states outright, or even implies, any recognition of the Taliban’s claim to sovereignty over Afghanistan.
It would also compel the State Department to compile an annual report on the countries who have diplomatic relations with the Taliban and whether any foreign persons “knowingly” give aid to the radical Islamic group. The bill would also require the US Treasury Department to impose sanctions on individuals who provide assistance to the Taliban.
The bill singles out Pakistan in particular – requiring the State Department to provide an annual report on whether Pakistan is providing safe harbor to designated foreign terrorist organizations. It also requires the State Department to determine whether or not the Taliban should be designated as a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker,” and whether the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan should be considered a “high risk jurisdiction.”
The legislation would also require US Customs and Border Protection to assess whether the importation of Afghanistan’s rare earth metals violates prohibitions on goods made with forced labor.
Finally, Rubio’s legislation would repeal certain sections of the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 that provided an exception in Iranian sanctions for facilities and sectors necessary for Afghanistan reconstruction.
Rubio’s legislation is supported by Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Cynthia Lumis of Wyoming.
While the State Department has designated al Qaeda as a foreign terrorist organization, it has not done the same for the Taliban.
Before the bill was introduced, Senator Rubio told Fox News that there is no doubt a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan “poses a direct threat to our national security interests” and to the interests of US allies in Central Asia and the Middle East. What’s more, Rubio explained, due to the disastrous withdrawal by the Biden administration, Afghanistan has once again become “a safe haven for terrorists who hate America.”
Since it is unlikely President Biden will treat the Taliban “like the terrorists they are,” Rubio added, it is up to Congress to take the action necessary to “keep Americans safe.”
What remains to be seen, of course, is if the Democrat-controlled Senate is willing to take any action at all.