On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said an al-Qaida revival is imminent in the newly Taliban-controlled country. The extremist group that used Afghanistan as a place of headquarters to attack the United States 20 years ago might plan a resurgence after the American withdrawal that left the Taliban in power.
Pentagon On Al-Qaida Revival
After his four-day tour of Persian Gulf states, Austin met with a small group of reporters in Kuwait City. He announced the United States is prepared to prevent an al-Qaida revival in Afghanistan that would threaten the American people.
“The whole community is watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaida has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan,” Austin said. “The nature of al-Qaida and (the Islamic State group) is they will always attempt to find space to grow and regenerate… Whether it’s there, in Somalia, or whether it’s in any other ungoverned space. I think that’s the nature of the organization.”
Taliban And Al-Qaida Brief History
From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled over Afghanistan, the then base of operations for al-Qaida. To find the masterminds of 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan. They overthrew the Taliban after refusing to comply with providing information regarding the whereabouts of al-Qaida. During the 20-year US war, al-Qaida vastly diminished. However, there are questions about their relations with the Taliban back in Kabul.
“We put the Taliban on notice that we expect them to not allow that to happen,” Austin said, of the possibility of al-Qaida using Afghanistan as a staging base again.
In the February 2020 agreement with the Trump administration, Taliban leaders vowed not to support al-Qaida or other extremist groups threatening the US. However, many US officials believe the Taliban keeps ties with al-Qaida. Many nations, including Gulf Arab states, worry that the Taliban’s return to power could lead to an al-Qaida revival in Afghanistan.
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