mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Out of Afghanistan?
Al Qaeda Resurgent in Afghanistan

On the same day that General John Campbell said he would seek more troops in Afghanistan if needed, the NYT reports that Al Qaeda is back in the country:

Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and a resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.

The Times says these developments seem to have surprised American officials, and that, after an October assault on one of Al Qaeda’s new bases, other installations have become difficult to detect. Some of the camps have been operating for upwards of a year and a half, but went unnoticed. In other words: Officials likely don’t really know how many training camps Al Qaeda is operating in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has returned right under America’s nose.

We knew the fight against the Taliban was not going well (this Washington Post map helpfully shows their gains), but this news about Al Qaeda is especially disconcerting. This White House has insisted that Al Qaeda is on the run and that ISIS is contained. But even as the Iraqis have retaken Ramadi from ISIS, the situation in Afghanistan—the “just war” in President Obama’s book, remember—paints a bleaker picture. President Obama has been trying to calm terrorism-inspired fears, and that’s a difficult message to get across to a frightened public even if threats are well-monitored. But news like this makes it even harder. Ultimately, President Obama’s attempt to calm fears is being undercut by the way the Middle East has deteriorated under his watch.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Dale Fayda

    Obama – a socialist demagogue and an incompetent, cowardly fraud.

    Forward!

    • Jim__L

      Tighten that up a little, and you could have a good ironic haiku…

  • Anthony

    President Obama has been trying to calm terrorism-inspired fears, and that’s a difficult message to get across to a frightened public….”

    Well, perhaps the State Department and Department of Homeland Security ought to work more vigorously to make U.S. public aware that:

    “Terrorism is all too real and no one can deny that it repeatedly ends in tragedy. At the same time it needs to be kept in proportion. The real world risks of terrorism in the United States fall short of virtually any other common cause of injury, death, and economic loss. To put these risks in perspective, the number of deaths from terrorism in the United States since 9/11 have been so low that Americans may well face a higher cumulative probability of dying from traffic accidents, food poisoning, crime and other causes if they celebrate a single New Year’s Eve than they do from terrorism over an entire year.

    Beyond that and to the specific point of the post (Afghanistan and AL Qaeda), here is the following:

    “It has now been almost exactly a year since U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat forces formally left Afghanistan. So far, the Afghan government and Afghan forces are losing at every level: Politics, governance, economics, security, and popular support. This becomes brutally clear from the metrics available on the war, as well as from virtually all media reporting….It is also clear from the fact that the Obama administration is steadily having to revise its plans for Afghanistan.” csis.org/publication/afghanistan-year-after-transition-losing-war-every-level

    • Jim__L

      Dear Americans,

      We don’t care if terrorists kill you.

      You probably shouldn’t celebrate New Year’s either.

      Sincerely,
      The Elites.

  • Nevis07

    I read this NYT’s piece this morning. Apparently, I had missed the story last year about the takeover attempt on the Pakistani naval vessel and the intelligence infiltration that Al Qaeda has managed. Naturally, this should be disconcerting to all of us given that Pakistan is known to have some of the weakest security of nuclear weapons in the world. Not that I have much more faith in the Pakistani military compared to Al Qaeda or ISIS, but at least they’re the devil we know…

    At any rate, hopefully we can reverse these gain they’ve made recently.

    • Jim__L

      We won’t be able to reverse those gains if the incompetent Obama policies (carried out by, among others, his incompetent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) continue.

      Anyone but Hillary, 2016!

      • Nevis07

        Agreed, Jim. Anyways, happy New Years (assuming the Hillary loses)!

  • gabrielsyme

    You guys are so unfair to poor President Obama. Sure, he may have completely cocked up Afghanistan, pissed away Iraq, created a terrorist nexus in Libya, and been completely outplayed by Putin in the Middle East and the Ukraine – but he did get an unenforced, optional agreement on climate change done!

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service