Terror Lives On: US Officials Say Al-Qaeda Could Re-form in Afghanistan Within 2 Years A video grab taken in 2006 from al-Jazeera shows al-Qaeda's then-second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri. (Getty))
By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 14 September 2021 03:49 PM
Top U.S. officials this week suggested that the infamous and lethal terrorist network known as al-Qaeda could re-form within Afghanistan in the next one to two years, The New York Times reports.
“The current assessment probably conservatively is one to two years for al-Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Tuesday at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit.
“We’re thinking about ways to gain access back into Afghanistan with all kinds of sources,” the general continued. “We are prioritizing that effort. We’ll continue to prioritize it. But we have to be careful to balance these very scarce resources with this pivot to China, and to Russia.”
However, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at the conference that “we don’t prioritize — at the top of the list – Afghanistan,” adding, “What we’re looking at is Yemen and Somalia, Syria and Iraq.
"That’s where we see the greatest threat.”
“We are already beginning to see some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaeda to Afghanistan,” David Cohen, the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said at the conference, according to The Wall Street Journal. “But it’s early days and we will obviously keep a very close eye on that.”
The Times reports that some al-Qaeda members have already entered Afghanistan, noting that the former security chief to Osama bin Laden, Amin al Haq, was captured on video entering Afghanistan in the province of Nangarhar in August.
Critics of the Biden administration's chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan last month have seized upon talk of an al-Qaeda resurgence as further evidence that a pullout strategy was poorly conceived or executed. America's 20-year war there was inspired by the 9/11 terror attacks and aimed at eradicating the terror group responsible.
For instance, in an intervierw with Fox News earlier this month, Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., said the administration’s haphazard withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has put the nation on “the path for another 9/11.”
“We are on a road to future attacks,” he warned, adding, “I think you're going to see that in the next year with al Qaeda 3.0 partnered with Haqqani [Network] and the Taliban.”
“Except this time, when the next generation has to go back to deal with it, they will have no bases,” he said. “We have given them away. No local allies. They're being massacred by the Taliban as we speak. We'll have to deal with an army's worth of American equipment that the Taliban now has. It is just heartbreaking and infuriating.”
In a similar vein, former CIA Director and Secretary of State Leon Panetta, who served under President Barack Obama, gave an ominous warning about the situation in Afghanistan during a recent TV interview. “The Taliban taking over Afghanistan is pretty much the same Taliban that controlled Afghanistan on 9/11,” Panetta said during the taping of “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.” “It's clear to me that they're going to continue to support Al-Qaeda, and I think they will plan additional attacks on our country, as well as elsewhere.”