US Secretary of Defense: We are ready to prevent the return of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the extremist Al-Qaeda organization, which used Afghanistan as a base for attacking the United States 20 years ago, may attempt to re-emerge there after the US withdrawal left the United States. Taliban in power.

“This is the nature of the organization,” he said from Kuwait at the end of a four-day tour of the Arabian Gulf states. He said the United States is ready to prevent al-Qaeda’s return in Afghanistan, which would threaten the United States.

The Taliban had provided refuge for al-Qaeda during his rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The United States invaded and expelled the Taliban after they refused to extradite al-Qaeda leaders following the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.

During the United States’ 20-year war, al-Qaeda’s size has shrunk considerably, but with the return of the Taliban to Kabul, questions have arisen about its prospects. future. Austin said, “We have told the Taliban that we expect them not to allow this to happen,” referring to the possibility that in future al-Qaeda use Afghanistan as a home base.

And in the February 2020 agreement with President Donald Trump’s administration, Taliban leaders pledged not to support al-Qaeda or other extremist groups that would threaten the United States. But US officials believe the Taliban maintain ties to al-Qaeda, and many countries fear that the Taliban’s return to power could open the door for al-Qaeda’s influence to return.

Austin pointed out who the US military is in able to contain al-Qaeda or any other extremist threat to the United States from Afghanistan using surveillance aircraft. He also acknowledged that it would have been much more difficult without US forces and intelligence teams stationed in Afghanistan.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of US staff, General Mark Milley, warned, “I believe there is at least a high probability of a broader civil war, and that in turn will lead to conditions that could in effects lead to a recurrence of the civil war ». Al Qaeda organization or the growth of ISIS or other terrorist groups ”.

He added: “You can see the resurgence of terrorism from that region in 12, 24, 36 months. We will watch it. “

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