US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that the Al-Qaeda extremist group, which used Afghanistan as a staging ground for an attack on the US 20 years ago, may try to resurrect itself in the aftermath of an American withdrawal that has left the Taliban in power.
“That’s the nature of the organization,” he remarked in Kuwait City at the end of a four-day visit of Persian Gulf states.
The US is ready to prevent an al-Qaeda resurgence: Austin
He stated that the US is prepared to prevent an Al-Qaeda resurgence in Afghanistan that would pose a threat to the US.
During its reign in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban offered safe haven for Al-Qaeda. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, the United States invaded and toppled the Taliban when they refused to hand up Al-Qaeda commanders.
We anticipate the Taliban to prevent this from happening: Austin
Despite the fact that Al-Qaeda was much reduced during the 20-year US war, doubts have arisen regarding its future prospects with the Taliban in Kabul.
“We put the Taliban on notice that we expect them to not allow that to happen,” Austin added, alluding to the potential of Al-Qaeda utilizing Afghanistan as a staging ground in the future.
Taliban commanders vowed not to support al-Qaeda last year
Taliban commanders vowed not to assist Al-Qaeda or other extremist organizations that might pose a danger to the United States in a February 2020 deal with the Trump administration.
However, US officials believe the Taliban maintains ties with al-Qaeda, and many countries, including Gulf Arab states, are concerned that the Taliban’s return to power will pave the way for a resurgence of Al-Qaeda influence.
The United States military is capable of containing Al-Qaeda: Austin
Austin claims that the US military is capable of containing Al-Qaeda or any other extremist threat emanating from Afghanistan by using surveillance and strike aircraft based elsewhere, including the Persian Gulf.
He has also admitted that the absence of US military and intelligence teams in Afghanistan will make things more difficult.