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broken promises. cheating Moral injury.
This is how I described the failed Afghan withdrawal of 2021 in my book “Operation Pineapple Express”. These sentiments are shared by many of the 750,000 Afghan war veterans, especially as we celebrate Veterans Day earlier this month. Why? Because they understand the stakes, something our government doesn’t seem to understand.
America’s broken promises are a threat to national security. Abandoning Afghanistan not only casts serious doubt on the United States’ commitment to its allies, but has accelerated the return of terrorist safe havens to Afghanistan, which is even worse than before.
Post-9/11 veterans saw and responded to the horror of al-Qaeda’s attacks on the homeland. They gave up their youth and more. And when Afghanistan collapsed, and the U.S. government didn’t answer the phone, the veteran population rose to the breach, once again, to save their Afghan partners. Now, those partners are sharing alarming information about what’s coming our way.
LT COL Scott Mann reflects on stranded Afghan commandos, Task Force Pineapple a year later
In a recent interview, the leader of the Afghan National Resistance Front, Ahmad Masoud, warned the West, citing the emergence of more than 20 violent extremist groups within Afghanistan. “We’re going back to where it all started again because these groups will export this terrorism. Imagine when there’s an attack, it could be in Europe, it could be in America. And “Imagine if the weapons left in Afghanistan were traced. Against the attacks that took place?”
Masood should know because his father was the Lion of Panjshir, Ahmad Shah Masood, the leader of the Northern Alliance, who in April 2001 warned the European Parliament about an AQ attack against the US, but no one listened at the time. And America endured. The worst terrorist attack in US history.
Now, once again, Afghanistan shines on the national security instrument panel. Afghanistan is reconfiguring its former capacity, allowing terrorist groups safe havens within its borders. And our government ignores it and negotiates with the Taliban-Haqqani regime, which is in direct violation of the Doha Agreement.
We may have a war on terror with us, but it is not done with us.
Unlike other wars of the past, Afghanistan is behind us.
Afghanistan’s breakdown: Biden’s national security agencies cite growing problems 15 months after withdrawal
Al Qaeda is rebuilding, and it is the next generation of terrorism. Foreign fighters from Syria, Iraq, North Africa and even Southeast Asia are openly training in former Afghan National Army bases in Helmand and Kandahar. A new, more motivated al-Qaeda is rising from the ashes. Leaner, hungrier, more agile, and led by the sons of our enemies. Zawahiri’s son, Abdul Rahman al-Maghribi, has been spotted several times in Afghanistan, and bin Laden’s son, Abdullah bin Laden, has been seen bouncing between Ghazni and Helmand provinces. Why is no one talking about it?
ISIS-K is growing in numbers, but more than that, ISIS is reported to have moved its headquarters from Syria to Afghanistan, confirmed by both U.S. and Afghan sources with deep knowledge. Access and location. This is indicative of two major terrorist groups, which have a history of attacking the US in Afghanistan.
Many in Washington have relied on the capabilities of an “over the horizon” strike to counter this growing threat. It falls short of expectations. While we have successfully targeted Zawahiri, let’s not forget the failed retaliation against ISIS-K on August 29, 2021, in which ten innocent Afghans were killed (including seven children).
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Violent extremism is likely to be defeated through relationships. Relationships with former friends and allies. Relations with partner forces. Relations with NATO. The relationships we lost.
Relationships require trust and America has betrayed that trust.
Currently, Afghan intelligence networks, special operations partners, and the Afghan resistance front all share this information with US veterans, and there is still no substantial access to them by the US government. If these terrorist groups continue to grow with their mandate of violence against the West, imagine a scenario where we are affected.
What if Americans are sent back to Afghanistan after another devastating terrorist attack at home? They respond blindly with no solid ground intelligence capability, no partner force, and almost no institutional memory of the painful lessons of the 20-year war. Will our sons and daughters face angry, well-equipped, American-trained ex-commandos who harbor a grudge against betrayal?
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If the US government continues to ignore these warnings and keep its head in the sand, the biggest shadow on Biden’s presidential legacy and the senior leaders who implemented this flawed policy will likely not be the Afghan withdrawal. But instead it will be a devastating attack on the homeland made possible by this wholesale exchange of 20-year-old partner forces for a Taliban-sanctioned terror haven.
Regardless, the next testimony after 9/11 was “How did this happen?!” They seem to be writing themselves, and our ex-soldiers just seem to sound the alarm bells.
Click here to read more from The Scotsman.