WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. State Department’s Ned Price and Under Secretary Nuland are expected to hold a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Watch the briefing in the player above.
The lightning-fast changes in Afghanistan are forcing the Biden administration to confront the prospect of a resurgent al-Qaida, the group that attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001, at the same time the U.S. is trying to stanch violent extremism at home and cyberattacks from Russia and China.
With the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, “I think al-Qaida has an opportunity, and they’re going to take advantage of that opportunity,” says Chris Costa, who was senior director for counterterrorism in the Trump administration.
“This is a galvanizing event for jihadists everywhere.”
Al-Qaida’s ranks have been significantly diminished by 20 years of war in Afghanistan, and it’s far from clear that the group has the capacity in the near future to carry out catastrophic attacks on America such as the 9/11 strikes, especially given how the U.S. has fortified itself in the past two decades with surveillance and other protective measures.
But a June report from the U.N. Security Council said the group’s senior leadership remains present inside Afghanistan, along with hundreds of armed operatives. It noted that the Taliban, who sheltered al-Qaida fighters before the Sept. 11 attacks, “remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Friday that al-Qaida remains a presence in Afghanistan, though quantifying it is hard because of a reduced intelligence-gathering capability in the country and “because it’s not like they carry identification cards and register somewhere.”