Pentagon Chief Explains Why Al-Qaeda 'Has the Ability to Regenerate in Afghanistan'
14:34 GMT 09.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
Late last week, US General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argued that a civil war may soon break out in Afghanistan, warning that such a development could pave the way for a resurgence of al-Qaeda*.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has suggested that al-Qaeda terrorists may seek a comeback in Afghanistan now that the Central Asian nation is under Taliban* rule.
Speaking to reporters in Kuwait City on Wednesday, the Pentagon chief made it clear that the US is poised and ready prevent al-Qaeda’s re-emergence in Afghanistan, which he said would pose a threat to America.
“The whole community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaeda has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan. The nature of al-Qaeda […] is that they will always attempt to find space to grow and regenerate, whether it’s there, whether it’s in Somalia, or whether it’s in any other ungoverned space. I think that’s the nature of the organisation”, Austin asserted.
Referring to the possibility of al-Qaeda using Afghanistan as a staging ground in the future, the defence secretary promised to “put the Taliban on notice that we [US authorities] expect them [Taliban militants] to not allow that to happen”.
© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINU.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman U.S. Army General Mark Milley discuss the end of the military mission in Afghanistan during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2021.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman U.S. Army General Mark Milley discuss the end of the military mission in Afghanistan during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2021.
He also argued that the US military can contain al-Qaeda by using surveillance and strike aircraft based elsewhere, including in the Persian Gulf, but admitted that it would be more difficult to implement without US troops and intelligence teams based in Afghanistan.
The claims come a few days after US General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News about the possibility of al-Qaeda coming back to Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
“I think there's at least a very good probability of a broader civil war [in Afghanistan] and that will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS [Daesh*] or other myriad of terrorist groups” there, Milley insisted.
On Tuesday, the Taliban announced an all-male interim Afghan government, about three weeks after the militant group seized power in the nation amid the US and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The post of interior minister went to Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is at the helm of a terror group known as the Haqqani Network. The group is notoriously known as the hardline branch of the Taliban and has been accused of carrying out attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.
9 September 2021, 00:43 GMT
The Taliban provided al-Qaeda militants with a safe haven while the group ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US were followed by American forces invading Afghanistan and ousting the Taliban after the insurgents refused to turn over al-Qaeda leaders.
*Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State) are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.