The Telegram (St. John's)

Military groups could use Afghanista­n to threaten U.S. within two years


WASHINGTON - Top U.S. military leaders said that internatio­nal militant groups like al Qaeda could pose a threat from Afghanista­n to the U.S. homeland and American allies in two years.

President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops completely from Afghanista­n by September has raised concerns that the country could erupt in full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

“It would take possibly two years for them to develop that capability,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a congressio­nal hearing.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said he agreed with the timeline and said there was a medium risk at the moment.

“If there was a collapse of the government, or a dissolutio­n of the Afghan security forces, that risk would obviously increase,” Milley said.

The comments are some of clearest signs of concern in the military and intelligen­ce community about the threat militant groups could pose from Afghanista­n and the risks of a complete withdrawal.

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