Washington, Aug 24 (AP) In the wake of the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan, the Biden administration in the US is making plans to deal with the possibility of a re-emergence of al-Qaeda. This is happening at a time when America is struggling to deal with violent extremism in its country and cyber attacks by Russia and China. Al Qaeda is the same group that attacked the US on September 11, 2001, after which US-led NATO forces launched the Afghanistan War to eliminate it. from Afghanistan
“I think al-Qaeda has an opportunity and they will take that opportunity,” said Chris Costa, who was senior director of counter-terrorism in the Trump administration on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the emergence of the Taliban. “This (what happened in Afghanistan) is an incident that inspired jihadists everywhere,” he said.
Al-Qaeda has largely been wiped out in the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan and it is not yet clear whether the group has the capability to carry out a 2001 attack on the US. However, the US has increased surveillance and other protective measures in 20 years.
A June report by the UN Security Council said the group’s senior leadership is still in Afghanistan and is accompanied by hundreds of armed men.
US Defense Headquarters Pentagon spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Friday that al-Qaeda is present in Afghanistan, but its numbers are difficult to trace because the country’s intelligence gathering capacity has declined.
Islamic State has attacked Americans in Afghanistan. The Taliban have fought Islamic State in the past, but now there is concern that Afghanistan could again be a haven for many extremists who may attack the US and other countries.
President Joe Biden has said that America must develop the ability to detect the threat of terrorism from afar.
His national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday that Biden has made it clear that counter-terrorism capabilities have been strengthened to the extent that it reduces the threat without a ground presence.
He said the intelligence community does not believe that al-Qaeda currently has the capability to attack the US.