When Team Biden supposedly killed al-Zawahiri with a drone strike as he sat on his porch in Kabul, it framed the strike as a major victory, showing the power of the United States and ability to keep blotting out terrorists wherever they appear.
Perhaps, though given that al-Zawahiri, one of the original brains behind al-Qaeda, made it all the way until 2022, finally knocking him off hardly seems like a major victory and example of US prowess. Rather, it seems like the US either never wanted to get him in the first place for some dark reason or was so incompetent as to be unable to until now, neither of which would be good news.
But, of course, that wasn’t all. One of the more obvious questions asked in the wake of al-Zawahiri’s death was whether al-Qaeda was once again treating Taliban-occupied Afghanistan as a safe haven, the reason for the 2001 invasion.
Team Biden, responsible for the humiliating rout from that land, insisted that such was not the case, claiming that fleeing from Afghanistan with our tail between our legs somehow made us safer. Sure it did, Brandon, sure it did.
Well, despite Team Biden’s assurances to the contrary, it sure looks like al-Qaeda is back in Afghanistan and is reconstituting under Taliban rule, as Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee pointed out.
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They did so in the form of a report called “A Strategic Failure’; Assessing the Administration’s Afghanistan Withdrawal“.
Writing in the report the HFAC Republicans say:
“The U.S. military’s inability to have access to bases in countries bordering Afghanistan means that the U.S. does not have as effective surveillance or strike capabilities as it did when the U.S. military had a presence in multiple bases in Afghanistan, or as effective as it could have been had the Biden Administration successfully negotiated basing arrangements with one of Afghanistan’s neighbors. This lack of capability comes as al Qaeda and ISIS-K have increased their activities in Afghanistan and as senior U.S. commanders have warned the two terror groups could reconstitute and target the United States as early as six months following the date of the withdrawal.
[…]A recent UN report from the same month confirmed the increased presence of al Qaeda in
Afghanistan in the wake of the withdrawal, saying that the terror group’s “leadership reportedly plays an advisory role with the Taliban, and the groups remain close.” The report added al Qaeda “enjoys greater freedom in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.” In addition, Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, has hundreds of members in Afghanistan, with those fighters sometimes joining Taliban units during combat operations.
U.S. CENTCOM has assessed, “ISIS-K has increased its recruitment and attack capabilities since U.S. and coalition forces withdrew from Afghanistan,” a May 2022 Pentagon Inspector General report said. The report also said the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), “assessed that ISIS-K could direct attacks in the West, including against the U.S. homeland, within the next year if the group prioritizes developing such a capability. Regionally, ISIS-K is connected to fighters from countries across Central and South Asia, probably making the group a threat to U.S. interests in the region.”
Perhaps it was time to leave Afghanistan. But the weak, humiliating way Biden did so, leaving the ANA to melt away and Taliban to take over, that was a disaster that means those enemies we spent years and trillions of dollars of fighting are now growing stronger. Let’s go Brandon!