Al-Qaeda Is Rising Again, and No One Seems to Give a Damn

Al-Qaeda is rising again, and no one seems to care.

A recent UN report confirms that al-Qaeda is getting stronger and actively plotting with the Taliban while waiting for the US to leave Afghanistan. In Africa, the terror group’s affiliates lead insurgencies while launching terror attacks into neighboring states. The attack on a Kenyan base that killed three Americans is an example. Within the past six months, an al-Qaeda attack planned through its Yemeni branch killed three sailors on US soil last December in Pensacola, Florida, and subsequently inspired a copy-cat attack on the Corpus Christi naval base in Texas. American acquiescence to al-Qaeda’s return plays directly into its hands.

Afghanistan will soon be a place where the mujahideen defeated the Soviets and the US. Al-Qaeda never assumed that it would win militarily. Instead, it waited for the US to tire of the fight and retreat. The late al-Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, predicted the US withdrawal. Ten years ago, he taunted: “Can American continue war with us for several decades?” The answer, apparently, was only for one more decade. The US has accelerated its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan even beyond the terms of the peace deal with the Taliban, prompting talks now of NATO’s accelerated exit. Throughout the Afghanistan war, US forces have focused on combating al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and more recently the Islamic State. America’s retreat will result in the loss of a “critical platform” needed by the US to deploy its unique capabilities against these enemies.

Counterterrorism pressure worked to weaken al-Qaeda’s ability to direct terror attacks from Afghanistan. US drone strikes — and the occasional raid — picking off top leaders in Afghanistan disrupted operations by eliminating operatives and their knowledge, while creating burdensome operational security requirements that slowed communication. Reducing the number and range of US advisers deployed with Afghan forces eased that pressure and allowed al-Qaeda to reestablish training camps in Afghanistan. It is nonsensical to believe that the Taliban, which adheres to the same ideology as al-Qaeda, will exert any pressure on al-Qaeda, whose leaders have been consultants to the peace process. Al-Qaeda has been preparing for this exact retreat for years.

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