Days ago, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby announced the killing of the leader of ISIS Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, in Syria by U.S. special operations forces. The action was hailed as a major victory. We were assured we could all sleep more soundly in our beds at night as a result of the strike.
The world is certainly a better place without Qurayshi. In the scheme of things, though, his death is meaningless. We have killed one terrorist. Meanwhile, a new terrorist superstate is growing unimpeded in Afghanistan. Its capabilities will soon dwarf anything Qurayshi was capable of building in his tiny fragment of the shattered nation of Syria.
Ever since the disastrous and humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan the Biden administration has attempted desperately to divert the attention of the American people elsewhere. The mantra has been that the Taliban have evolved. They are no longer harboring terrorists. They want to be part of the community of civilized nations.
The Taliban are “businesslike.” We can work with these people.
That is not simply a lie. It is a monstrous lie and one that may very well get a lot of Americans killed.
According to a recent United Nations report, Osama bin Laden’s son visited Afghanistan in October 2021 for a series of top-level meetings with Taliban leaders. Al Qaeda is not simply still in Afghanistan. It is expanding its presence there and cooperating fully with the Taliban.
Al Qaeda is not alone. A whole host of foreign terrorist groups are operating freely on Afghan soil. These include Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The Taliban is making no effort to limit their activities.
“The security landscape in Afghanistan changed dramatically on 15 August, when the Taliban took control of the country. There are no recent signs that the Taliban has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist fighters in the country.”
“On the contrary, terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history.”U.N. report on al-Qaeda
Amin Muhammad ul-Haq Saam Khan, who coordinated security for now-deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, also returned to his home in Afghanistan in late August. He was welcomed by the Taliban, and he was hailed as a great hero. His return was openly trumpeted and shown on social media.
AQIS, which is led by Osama Mehmood and his deputy Atif Yahya Ghouri, is now operating in several different provinces in Afghanistan and is estimated to have hundreds of fighters in its ranks. Many of these individuals are from nations other than Afghanistan.
The same is true for other groups such as IMU. Afghanistan has once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups. It provides a platform from which they can organize attacks throughout the region and around the world.
Interestingly, the one exception seems to be the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). This group, which targets the Chinese in East Turkestan, has been restrained. The group’s camps were recently moved by the Taliban further away from the Chinese border, and the Taliban has interfered with the group’s ability to continue to launch attacks into China.
The U.N. report is only one of a growing series of indications that Afghanistan is rapidly turning into a home base for the world’s most lethal terrorist organizations.
In excess of 6000 members of LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed, both Pakistani terrorist groups, have permanent bases in Afghanistan. Both groups are establishing new camps in the wake of the Taliban seizure of power in Kabul. LeT has carried out a number of high-profile attacks in India including the 2008 Mumbai attack which left 160 people dead.
Neighboring countries are already beginning to eye the growing terrorist presence in Afghanistan with concern. Speaking recently, the Russian ambassador to Tajikistan had this to say on the subject.
“The threat does exist. According to certain data, around 6,000 militants of various terrorist organizations are operating in Afghanistan’s northern areas. The biggest threat comes from organizations, which have natives of Central Asian countries and some Russian regions. These organizations include Islamic State (outlawed in Russia), Jamaat Ansarullah, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (outlawed in Russia),” he said. “We see that their activity in the wintertime has decreased as key roads and paths in the mountains are covered with snow. It is typical for Afghanistan’s mountain areas. Their activity may increase in the spring when the weather changes.”Afghanistan Times
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon voiced similar concerns in remarks he made recently. According to Rakhmon, there are now more than 40 terrorist camps and training centers in Afghanistan’s northeastern provinces.
For years before 9/11, there were warnings of what was to come. Our intelligence services knew that Al Qaeda was growing in strength and intended to expand the scale and scope of its attacks on U.S. targets. The Clinton administration did not care. It had bet the farm on the concept that the fall of the Soviet Union meant a kinder, gentler world. Operations to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and degrade Al Qaeda’s capabilities were routinely shut down and largely discouraged.
We knew the monster was growing in strength. We allowed it to do so. Thousands of Americans died as a result.
We have returned to a similar crossroads in time. While we trumpet attacks on terrorist leaders clinging to fragments of territory in the Middle East, we are allowing a terrorist superstate to grow unimpeded in Afghanistan. The result of this will likely be catastrophic.
In Afghanistan, the threat is growing. The runup to the next 9/11 has already begun. In Washington, nothing is being done to stop it.