A new report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warns that jihadi groups are likely to find safe haven in Afghanistan where the federal government has spent a trillion dollars and deployed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.
The entire purpose of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was to topple the Taliban government and destroy the safe havens al Qaeda used to attack the U.S. on 9/11. Since Barack Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, the Taliban have made historic battlefield gains throughout that country. The U.S.-backed Afghan government has shown itself to be rife with corruption and faces a pending political leadership crisis in September.
Noting these facts ISW warns:
If Afghanistan remains on this course, global extremist organizations will reconstitute their sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s ungoverned spaces and pose enduring threats to U.S. national security.
On Saturday Taliban-affiliated terrorists from the Haqqani Network seized a town on the Pakistani border. A local Afghan official told The New York Times that the Haqqani Network had hundreds of fighters and managed to seize dozens of vehicles and weapons. The vehicles and weapons were almost certainly provided or paid for by the U.S. government.
The Haqqani Network is responsible for a large share of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and provides the infrastructure for massive suicide attacks throughout the country. The group maintains a tacit alliance with al Qaeda and has deep roots in the tribal territories in Pakistan.
The U.S. also dispatched a hundred soldiers to the capital city of Helmand province last Tuesday. Helmand province is important strategic territory for the Taliban, and reports indicate they now control almost every major city in the province except for the capital. The Afghan defense forces have proven inept at battling back the Taliban in Helmand, despite dedicating almost their entire military arsenal to the effort.
The Taliban has also surrounded the major city of Kunduz, which it briefly seized in September 2015. Kunduz’s seizure in 2015, marked the first time the Taliban controlled a major city since 2001. ISW notes that the Taliban controls 98% of four key districts that surround Kunduz, which it used to launch its first offensive on the city a year ago.
Al Qaeda has capitalized on Taliban gains throughout Afghanistan by reestablishing major training camps for the first time since before 9/11. In October 2015, the U.S. launched an operation against a massive al Qaeda training camp in Kandahar province on the Pakistani border. The commanding U.S. general at the time called it “probably the largest” al Qaeda camp the U.S. had seen in its 14 year tenure in Afghanistan.
Al Qaida’s affiliates, and leaders remain committed to launching major operations against U.S. allies and the U.S. homeland.
This report, by Saagar Enjeti, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.