Al-Qaeda Not 'Gone' From Afghanistan Despite Biden's Claims: Blinken
19:12 GMT 22.08.2021 (Updated: 06:44 GMT 29.08.2021)
On Friday, US President Joe Biden questioned a rationale for staying in Afghanistan amid a barrage of criticism towards the West’s hasty withdrawal from the country that resulted in the Taliban’s* takeover. “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” the president said, raising many eyebrows among fact-checkers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to admit that it was not true that al-Qaeda* was “gone” from Afghanistan, despite President Biden previously claiming otherwise.
"As we all know, we went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission and one purpose in mind: and that was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11, to bring bin Laden to justice, which we did a decade ago, and to diminish the capacity of al Qaeda to do the same thing again, to attack us from Afghanistan and that, to the president's point, has been successful," Blinken said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview.
The programme’s host Chris Wallace had to pressure Blinken several times before the official finally admitted that there are still al Qaeda members and remnants in the country. He didn’t directly acknowledge that his boss made a mistake when saying on Friday that the terrorist organization had completely disappeared from the country:
“But what the president was referring to was its capacity to do what it did on 9/11 and that capacity has been very successfully diminished,” Blinken argued.
America’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was launched under the pretext of driving the Taliban out of power over the movement’s links to al Qaeda and its provision of safe havens to terrorists.
20 years and over $2 trillion later, the latest United Nations report indicated that al Qaeda was present in at least 15 Afghan provinces. On 15 August, the Taliban swiftly captured power in Afghanistan as the West was withdrawing its troops from the country.
*The Taliban and al-Qaeda are listed as terrorist organisations in Russia.