Al Qaeda Could Rebuild in Afghanistan in 1-2 Years, U.S. Officials Say

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Politics|Al Qaeda could rebuild successful Afghanistan successful a twelvemonth oregon two, U.S. officials say.

The Taliban has agelong  fought the Islamic State affiliate, but they are established allies of Al Qaeda and person  constricted  quality  to power  the borders of Afghanistan.
Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Julian E. Barnes

  • Sept. 14, 2021, 12:11 p.m. ET

Al Qaeda could rebuild wrong Afghanistan wrong 1 to 2 years, apical quality officials said Tuesday, noting that immoderate members of the panic radical person already returned to the country.

Earlier successful the year, apical Pentagon officials said Al Qaeda could reconstitute wrong 2 years, past told lawmakers aft the autumn of the Afghanistan authorities they were revising that timeline.

The caller timeline is not a extremist shift, but reflects the world that the Taliban has a constricted quality to power the borders of Afghanistan. While the Taliban person agelong fought the Islamic State affiliate, they are established allies of Al Qaeda. Though the Taliban pledged successful the February 2020 bid statement with the United States not to fto Afghanistan beryllium utilized by panic groups, analysts person said specified promises ringing hollow.

“The existent appraisal astir apt conservatively is 1 to 2 years for Al Qaeda to physique immoderate capableness to astatine slightest endanger the homeland,” Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the manager of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Tuesday astatine the yearly Intelligence and National Security Summit.

David S. Cohen, the lawman manager of the C.I.A., said the hard portion of the timeline question was to cognize erstwhile Al Qaeda oregon the Islamic State affiliate successful Afghanistan would “have the capableness to spell to onslaught the homeland” earlier they could beryllium detected.

The C.I.A. is keeping a keen ticker of “some imaginable question of Al Qaeda to Afghanistan,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen did not place circumstantial Qaeda members who person traveled backmost to Afghanistan since the autumn of the American-backed government. But Osama bin Laden’s erstwhile information chief, Amin al Haq, who served with bin Laden during the conflict of Tora Bora, was seen connected video returning to the Afghan state of Nangarhar past month.

On Monday, speaking astatine the aforesaid conference, Avril D. Haines, the manager of nationalist intelligence, said that Afghanistan was not the top panic menace facing the United States. Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, she said, each posed much important threats.

The C.I.A. volition person to summation its reliance connected collecting quality from afar, successful alleged “over the horizon” operations, Mr. Cohen said. He added the bureau hoped to bash its enactment — including rebuilding informant networks — person to Afghanistan. “We volition besides look for ways to enactment from wrong the horizon, to the grade that is possible,” helium said.

Ramping up that quality postulation successful Afghanistan volition person to occur, General Berrier said, astatine the aforesaid clip arsenic agencies amended their quality to show China and Russia.

“We’re reasoning astir ways to summation entree backmost into Afghanistan with each kinds of sources,” the wide said. But helium added, “We person to beryllium cautious to equilibrium these precise scarce resources with this pivot to China, and to Russia.”

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