Americans Agree: After Afghanistan Withdrawal, The U.S. Is Now Less Safe From Al-Qaeda

Americans Agree: After Afghanistan Withdrawal, The U.S. Is Now Less Safe From Al-Qaeda

David Wilezol, the former Chief Speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of State from 2017 to 2021, discusses the threat al-Qaeda poses to the U.S. after the Afghan withdrawal.

David Wilezol

Now that the United States has completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration is eager to downplay the risks of an al-Qaeda resurgence coming from the country. But the American people are keenly aware that the consequences of an American departure from Afghanistan makes them less safe.

According to a new TIPP Insights Poll, 47% of Americans believe America will be more threatened by al-Qaeda now that America has left Afghanistan. Only 14% think America will be less at risk. 26% think that the country faces the same level of threat. 13% weren't sure how the pullout affects the risk to al-Qaeda.

Chart 1

Their assessment of the risk is accurate. At best, the Taliban will turn a blind eye to al-Qaeda activities. The group hasn't severed any ties with al-Qaeda, in violation of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in March 2020. Now that the Taliban is in control of the country, it's very possible al-Qaeda will enjoy safe havens similar to those that the group had before 9/11. General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has said of al-Qaeda, "I think it's only a matter of time before we see them assert themselves and begin to plan attacks against our homeland."

Chart 2

The Biden Administration has boasted that the United States will be able to monitor and strike terrorists in Afghanistan via so called "over the horizon" capabilities, principally drone aircraft. But flight times for drones launched from U.S. bases in Qatar or other Gulf nations are long. Hostile countries like Iran and Pakistan won't grant new overflight rights to make the trips shorter. And even when armed with world-class surveillance technology, drones can't gather details on the ground the same way human intelligence networks can. The C.I.A. will no doubt try and rebuild networks inside Afghanistan. But with American credibility badly damaged after failing to evacuate tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted the U.S. over two decades, which Afghan would be eager to put their trust in an American intelligence officer?

The concern over new al-Qaeda threats isn't confined to Republicans, either. The 47% of independents surveyed who said the U.S. is less safe from al-Qaeda matches the overall 47% figure across all political affiliations. Voters usually don't vote on foreign policy and national security topics, except in rare cases such as the 2004 presidential race and the 2006 midterms, when questions about presidential leadership in the global war on terrorism and the handling of the Iraq War, respectively, loomed large in both races. If al-Qaeda cells in the U.S. start launching new attacks inside the United States or on American interests abroad, such as was the case in the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania bombings and the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, it won't be hard for voters to draw a straight line between the carnage and the Biden Administration.

With the 20thanniversary of the September 11th attacks happening this month, it seems most Americans think the U.S. is newly vulnerable to the kinds of attacks we fought for two decades to stop. By choosing not to leave behind a residual force that can appropriately monitor and strike al-Qaeda, the Biden Administration is playing with fire, both with our national security and politically.

David Wilezol is the Founder and President of the speechwriting and strategic communications firm Seventh Floor Strategies. He previously served as the Chief Speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of State from 2017-2021.

TIPP Takes

Germany: Rights Group Files Complaint About Forced Uyghur Labor

Germany: Rights Group Files Complaint About Forced Uyghur Labor

Five German retailers, including C&A, Lidl, and Hugo Boss, have been accused of using forced Uyghur labor in their supply chains.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a criminal complaint in Germany against five major retailers Monday.

The ECCHR said the complaint is the result of an open-source investigation based on information that the five companies had listed "publicly and voluntarily" identifying their suppliers in Xinjiang

The Aldi Group said the rights group's claims were directed at the supplier Turpan Jinpin Knitting. The company said it had stopped purchasing items from this manufacturer at the end of 2019.

C&A denied purchasing garments from any Xinjiang-based suppliers and said it had not sourced yarn or fabric from there.

Hugo Boss likewise rejected the allegations and said its "values and standards were adhered to in the production of our goods and that there are no violations of the law."

Israel's Military Chief Says 'Accelerating' Iran Strike Plans

Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi
Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi

Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi's comments follow a series of high-level Israeli officials' warnings over Tehran's nuclear program.

Preparations for possible action against Iran are being intensified, Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi said in an interview published on Monday, adding "a significant chunk of the boost to the defense budget, as was recently agreed, was intended for this purpose."

He also said efforts were underway throughout the Middle East to check Iran's allies.

The main objective is "minimizing Iranian presence in the Middle East with an emphasis on Syria … But these operations take place throughout the Middle East. They're also against Hamas, against Hezbollah", said Kohavi.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday Iran was ready to hold talks with world powers to revive the nuclear deal – but not under Western "pressure."

Afghan Developments: CIA Chief, Russian Security Head In Delhi

Afghan Developments: CIA Chief, Russian Security Head In Delhi

Official sources said that India is in "close contact" with Moscow and Washington over developments in Afghanistan, with two high-level intelligence delegations to Delhi this week.

An American delegation of intelligence and security officials, led by Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns, is visiting the region including India and Pakistan, and held consultations with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Dova.

On Wednesday, the Russian Secretary of the Security Council General Nikolay Patrushev will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NSA Doval, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, the MEA announced.

The separate meetings with U.S. and Russian officials in South Block come as the Taliban announced an acting or interim government led by Mohammad Hasan Akhund and Abdul Ghani Baradar as deputy Prime Minister.

Audio Of Ripper The 'Talking' Australian Duck Rediscovered

Audio Of Ripper The 'Talking' Australian Duck Rediscovered

Researchers have released audio of an Australian musk duck called Ripper saying what sounds like "you bloody fool".

The 34-year-old recording appears to be the first documented evidence of the species being able to mimic sounds. Researcher Dr. Peter Fullagar recorded Ripper in 1987 at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra.

Mimicking sounds is a rare characteristic. There is evidence of vocal learning in dolphins, whales, elephants, and bats, but it does not appear to be like most mammals.

Researchers previously assumed that vocal learning evolved in only three of the 35 orders of bird species, but thanks to Ripper, Prof Carel ten Cate can now introduce a new order into the group.


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