Meanwhile, the old wheel goes round and round....
Afghanistan Comes Full Circle
Radical Islamist elements are making the most of the power vacuum in Central Asia and once again aim to use Afghanistan as a base to export terrorism abroad.
The revelations come from a Washington Post review
of the documents illegally released in the trove of leaks uploaded to the online messaging platform Discord
. Citing the information in these leaks, the Post
notes the Pentagon’s awareness of at least 15 terrorist plots coordinated by “ISIS leaders in Afghanistan” targeting “embassies, churches, business centers, and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.” The leaked records expose plans to develop deployable chemical weapons, hijack sophisticated drone aircraft, and kidnap Iraqi diplomats to secure the release of the group’s prisoners in the Middle East. ISIS operatives are reportedly cultivating assets in theaters of conflict all over the world, from Syria to Ukraine, amid the organization’s “aspirational” plots against civilians in Europe and the United States.
The documents, the Post
reports, detail the Islamic State’s “cost-effective model for external operations,” which rely on operatives embedded within populations in target countries and could “enable ISIS to overcome obstacles—such as competent security services—and reduce some plot timelines, minimizing disruption opportunities.”
This unnerving development is supposedly compounded by what the Post
seems to view as an equally if not more pernicious menace: the risk that Republicans will “pounce” on this news and revive their criticisms of Joe Biden’s hopelessly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan
. Pouncing aside, it would be a real public service if congressional Republicans made the most of these pilfered documents to highlight this White House’s abuse of the public trust in the bleak summer of 2021.
“We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago,” President Joe Biden asserted
less than a week after 13 American soldiers were killed supervising the improvisatory airlift out of Kabul’s civilian airport. The group that committed the 9/11 attacks had been “decimated,” the president added, and the only “vital interest” the U.S. maintained in Central Asia was the prevention of future attacks on the U.S. and its allies. Toward that end, America welcomed the support of its new partners in peace: the Taliban.
“The Taliban has committed to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the United States or our allies, including Al Qaeda and ISIS-K,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken
assured skeptical lawmakers. The notion that the Taliban, which only weeks earlier was engaged in an all-out offensive against America’s partners in Afghanistan, had suddenly become a U.S. asset contradicted not only the evidence of our own eyes but other voices inside the Biden administration.
“We are already beginning to see some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaeda to Afghanistan,” said David Cohen
, the CIA’s deputy director. Scott Berrier
, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed, adding that transnational terrorist organizations would reconstitute “some capability to at least threaten the homeland” within two years of America’s withdrawal.
Former intelligence officials who served Democratic administrations in the past were even less reserved in their assessment of the threat posed by the recapitulation of the Taliban’s regime. Al-Qaeda and other groups “will plan additional attacks on our country, as well as elsewhere,” warned former CIA director Leon Panetta. “The reconstruction of al-Qaida’s homeland attack capability will happen quickly,” his successor, Mike Morell
, warned, “if the U.S. does not collect the intelligence and take the military action to prevent it.”
In the wake of Biden’s botched withdrawal, documents reveal plans by radical Islamist elements to once again use the nation as a base to export terrorism.