During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that ISIS terror attacks are expected to increase going into this summer as the Taliban struggles to fight them.
“The Taliban is attempting to maintain pressure on ISIS. They’re finding it difficult to do so,” McKenzie said. “We’re coming out of the winter; traditionally this would now begin the fighting season. It is my expectation that ISIS attacks will ramp up in Afghanistan as we go into the summer.”
McKenzie also warned that he did not believe the Taliban would stop al Qaeda from being active, saying that “they’re much less firm on the al Qaeda issue as far as opposing them and being able to limit them.”
As noted by Fox News, “The Taliban infamously harbored al Qaeda and its former leader Usama bin Laden prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. After a 20-year war that saw them temporarily toppled from power, the Taliban swiftly retook control of Afghanistan in 2021 as American forces withdrew. During the U.S. withdrawal, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bombing at an airport in Kabul. Casualties included 13 U.S. service members.”
McKenzie’s comments come just a few months after he warned that the United States had lost nearly all of its ability to track Islamic terrorists inside Afghanistan after Democrat President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from the country last summer.
“Speaking at the Pentagon, McKenzie said it’s clear that al-Qaeda is attempting to rebuild its presence inside Afghanistan, which was the base from which it planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. He said some militants are coming into the country through its porous borders, but it is hard for the U.S. to track numbers,” Fox News reported in December.
“McKenzie and other senior U.S. military and national security officials had said before the U.S. withdrawal that it would complicate efforts to keep a lid on the al-Qaeda threat, in part because of the loss of on-the-ground intelligence information and the absence of a U.S.-friendly government in Kabul,” the outlet added. “The U.S. says it will rely on airstrikes from drones and other aircraft based beyond Afghanistan’s borders to respond to any extremist threats against the U.S. homeland.”
“We’re probably at about 1 or 2% of the capabilities we once had to look into Afghanistan,” McKenzie said at the time, adding that this makes it “very hard, not impossible” to ensure that Islamic terrorist groups cannot pose a threat to the United States.
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