After the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban there is a slight increase in the numbers of members of Al-Qaeda with the United States closely monitoring the area. The revelation came from non-other than Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command who in an interview said that the terror group Al-Qaeda has grown slightly inside Afghanistan since US forces left in late August, and the Taliban leadership is divided over whether to fulfill their 2020 pledge to break ties with the group.
The top United States command added that the departure of US military and intelligence assets from Afghanistan has made it much harder to track Al-Qaeda and other terror groups inside Afghanistan. He has been quoted as saying, “We’re probably at about 1 or 2 percent of the capabilities we once had to look into Afghanistan. Some militants are coming into the country through its porous borders, but it is hard for the US to track numbers.” Possibly hinting at the Pakistani side.
The US invasion of Afghanistan due to the September 11 terror attack on the United States soil led to 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda is among the many terror and extremist groups present inside Afghanistan. It is true that after 2001, it had lost most of its ability to carry out attacks but experts feel it still retains “an aspirational desire” to attack the enemy countries. During their first period of rule in Kabul, from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban gave haven to Al-Qaeda and refused Washington’s demand after 9/11 to expel the group and turn over its leader, Osama bin Laden.
Talking to The Daily Guardian Ashish Kumar Thakur, a strategic affairs expert who followed the Af-Pak region said, “ With Taliban at the helm, the threat from Afghan soil is always high. Now the situation is different from 1996, ISIS and other groups are also present which is a threat for the world. The statement of the US commander signals that things are not right in Afghanistan and the world needs a collective plan for Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan, a country strategically located in South Asia has been seeing instability for the last 40 years — a period that started with an invasion by the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1970s and ended with the withdrawal of the United States-led NATO troops on August 31.