Al-Qaeda could be rebuilt in Afghanistan within a year or two, Supreme Intelligence officials said Tuesday, saying some members of the terrorist group had already returned to the country.
Earlier this year, a senior Pentagon official said al-Qaeda could be rebuilt within two years and told lawmakers that it would revise its timeline after the collapse of the Afghan government.
The new timeline is not a radical change, but it reflects the reality that the Taliban have limited ability to control the borders of Afghanistan. The Taliban have long fought with Islamic State affiliates, but they are al-Qaeda’s established allies. The Taliban promised not to let Afghanistan be used by terrorist groups in a peace agreement with the United States in February 2020, but analysts said such a promise was hollow.
Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Scott D. Berrier told the annual Intelligence and National on Tuesday, “Current assessments are probably from a year conservative in building al-Qaeda’s ability to threaten its homeland. It’s been two years. ” Security summit.
David S, Deputy Secretary of the CIA. Cohen said the difficult part of the timeline question is to know that al-Qaeda or Afghan Islamic State affiliates “have the ability to attack their homeland” before they are detected. ..
The CIA is closely monitoring “potential movement of al-Qaeda to Afghanistan,” Cohen said.
Cohen has not identified any particular Kaida members who have returned to Afghanistan since the collapse of the US-backed government. However, Osama bin Laden’s former security chief Amin Alhak, who served bin Laden during the Battle of Trabola, was seen in a video returning to Nangarhar, Afghanistan last month.
At the same meeting on Monday, Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haynes said Afghanistan was not the greatest terrorist threat facing the United States. Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq all posed a more serious threat, she said.
According to Cohen, the CIA needs to increase its reliance on gathering information from a distance in so-called “horizontal” operations. He added an agency that wants to do its job near Afghanistan, including rebuilding its informant network. “We also look for ways to work from within the horizon, wherever possible,” he said.
General Belier said government agencies need to improve their ability to monitor China and Russia, while at the same time strengthening intelligence gathering in Afghanistan.
“We are thinking of ways to return to Afghanistan using all kinds of sources,” the general said. But he added, “We must be careful to balance these very scarce resources with this pivot to China and Russia.”