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'Sanctuary of Terrorists': One Year After Afghanistan Pullout, 10,000+ Jihadists Flood Back In

08-18-2022
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Taliban fighters in Afghanistan

Florida Republican Congressman Mike Waltz, a decorated former Special Forces officer who led multiple combat tours to Afghanistan, tells CBN News that a year after the Taliban takeover, the country is now a sanctuary for terrorists.

"The intelligence community has been very clear to those of us on the Armed Services Committee that Al Qaeda and ISIS are rebuilding and they fully intend to attack the West again," Waltz told CBN News.

Afghan watchers say the Taliban achieved what Osama Bin Laden dreamed of and ISIS wished for: a full-fledged caliphate with the powers of the state.

"With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, these groups have been welcomed with open arms, even if quietly, and we've seen them reorganizing their efforts in Afghanistan," Bill Roggio, editor of Foundation for Defense of Democracies' "Long War Journal" told CBN News.

Waltz says a year in, the consequences of America basically giving Afghanistan to the Taliban has meant a huge boost to militant Islamists everywhere.

"I can share with you that the United Nations and their intelligence analysis shows that 10,000 to 15,000 foreign fighters are now gravitating back into Afghanistan," Waltz said.

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In June, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Michael Kurilla revealed U.S. intelligence indicates that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda are already building training camps inside the country.

"Al Qaeda may or may not choose to launch attacks against the U.S. but the fact that it has the capacity, it has the safe haven to do so, that is what frightens me," Roggio said.

How Iran is Partnering With Al-Qaeda to Expand its Terror Network, And What That Means for the US

Indications are the Al Qaeda - Taliban relationship is only getting stronger, as evidence that longtime Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri lived in a posh Kabul neighborhood until the August 2 U.S. drone strike killed him at the safe house.

"The United Nations was reporting just weeks prior that top Al Qaeda leaders were providing strategic guidance to the Taliban and low and behold we kill Zawahiri in Kabul," Roggio said. "I think this tells us everything we need to know about that Taliban - Al Qaeda relationship."

While Taliban fighters took to the streets this week to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their takeover, most of Afghanistan stayed home, dismayed at the crippling and harsh conditions under the Taliban's Islamic rule.

It's been a year since Afghan girls set foot in a classroom. Sodaba Nazhan decided to run informal classes at this undisclosed home in Kabul.

"The Taliban, with its extreme ideology that they have against women, have not changed, they are the same Taliban of 20 years ago, but we can't be the women of 20 years ago, we have to continue our struggle with the pen and our voices," Nazhan, an English language teacher said.

Women are banned from government jobs, forbidden to travel alone and have been ordered to cover up.

"Afghanistan as a whole is being denied the benefit of women and girls' contribution to society," said Fiona Frazer, United Nations representative.

Meanwhile, the country's economy is in tatters and 97% of the population has fallen into poverty with reports of widespread starvation.

"On the one hand, the economic situation is difficult; on the other hand, the security situation is getting worse day by day. We still witness the same explosions and suicide attacks we used to witness in the past," said Abdul Mujeeb, a Kabul resident.

After just one year since the Taliban takeover, there's already talk of Afghanistan becoming a failed state.

"The future is very bleak. We see this is a precipice, and we are driving towards the precipice without even a safety belt on," warned Neil Turner, with Norwegian Refugee Council.

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