With the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan under way, two al Qaeda operatives have reportedly warned that a war “on all other fronts” will continue against America unless all its forces are “expelled from the rest of the Islamic world.”
US Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, revealed Sunday that “our forces are now preparing to retrograde” — a confirmation that the withdrawal process has begun after President Biden this month announced a full removal by Sept. 11.
This weekend marks the 10th anniversary since 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by US Navy SEALs.
But his terrorist network claims its fight against America will not end anytime soon – with two al Qaeda members telling CNN that “war against the US will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world.”
Terrorism expert Paul Cruickshank, editor in chief of West Point’s CTC Sentinel, told the network the extremists may “feel buoyed by the Biden administration’s decision to pull out troops from Afghanistan — but they may also be seeking to deflect attention from the many recent losses.”
Al Qaeda has said it is planning a comeback by partnering again with the Taliban, which two members of al Qaeda’s subcontinent broadcast branch praised for keeping the fight against the US alive.
“Thanks to Afghans for the protection of comrades-in-arms, many such jihadi fronts have been successfully operating in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time,” an al Qaeda rep told CNN.
The network said it has reached out to the Taliban for comment on its relationship with al Qaeda but that it has not responded.
Al Qaeda claims it has no interest in using Afghanistan as a launch pad for future attacks because it no longer needs it.
“It did not need Afghanistan, and there is no such intention in the future,” the group told CNN.
“The Americans are now defeated,” the group said, drawing a parallel to the Soviet Union’s withdrawal three decades ago from the country and its ultimate collapse.
Al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is heard from only in rare propaganda releases, but the group still sees itself as a lead for other jihadists – with franchises operating in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and northern Africa, among other places, according to CNN.
The group claims to have “masterminded” the 2009 attack in which seven CIA operatives were killed at their base near Khowst in Afghanistan.
It said that at the time the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, which also was known to have been involved in the attack, was the junior partner and “was in its learning stages, many mistakes were made by them.”