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Terrorism

Al-Qaeda could use Afghanistan to attack US within 12 months: Intelligence officials

The CIA deputy director noted that intelligence agencies were already noticing activities by al-Qaeda to re-establish a presence in Afghanistan.

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US intelligence officials warned Tuesday that the terrorist group al-Qaeda could re-establish itself in Afghanistan within the next one to two years.

President Joe Biden ordered the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which ended America’s longest war last month.

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But the ensuing events and catastrophic withdrawal led to the complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Concerns are mounting over whether Afghanistan could once again turn into a launchpad for terrorist attacks on the US or its interests abroad.

“We’re thinking about ways to gain access back into Afghanistan with all kinds of sources and accesses,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said during a conference on Tuesday.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing, April 29, 2021. (Reuters)
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing, April 29, 2021. (Reuters)

Berrier also revealed expectations that al-Qaeda could build “some capacity to at least threaten the homeland” within “one to two years.”

His assessment of the potential for al-Qaeda to regroup in this period was echoed by CIA Deputy Director David Cohen, who also spoke at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance conference.

Cohen noted that intelligence agencies were already noticing activities by al-Qaeda to re-establish a presence in Afghanistan.

At the same conference, a day earlier, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines seemed to have taken a different stance.

Haines said the “greatest” threat to the US was not from Afghanistan but terrorists in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Iraq.

“What we’re looking at is Yemen and Somalia, Syria and Iraq. That’s where we see the greatest threat.”

Like many current and former US officials, Haines admitted that the withdrawal from Afghanistan had hindered Washington’s intelligence collecting capabilities.

Nevertheless, Haines said the US would continue to monitor “any possible reconstitution” of terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

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