August 2, 2022

What’s Al-Qaida Doing in Afghanistan?

Biden surrendered the country to the Taliban a year ago, and the predicted results came to pass.

Eleven months ago, Joe Biden surrendered and retreated from Afghanistan, leaving the nation — including the allies there who helped us for two decades — at the merciless hands of the Taliban. Last night, he decided to make the narrative about his glorious triumphs against terrorists because al-Qaida cofounder and leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has joined the late Osama bin Laden and all those virgins in the pits of hell.

“My fellow Americans,” Biden said in prime time remarks, “on Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the emir of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri. You know, al-Zawahiri was bin Laden’s leader. He was with him all the — the whole time. He was his number-two man, his deputy at the time of the terrorist attack of 9/11. He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11, one of the most responsible for the attacks that murdered 2,977 people on American soil.”

He was also involved in other attacks against America, including bombings at our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

Indeed, al-Zawahiri was an evil man, and we’re glad that he’s now facing eternal justice for his heinous crimes. And Biden is right: “We make it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.”

Yet the message of his presidency — and that of his former boss, Barack Obama — has been one of weakness. Both presidents can brag about taking out major terrorist leaders (Osama met his maker for judgment in a May 2011 strike Biden opposed), but both presidents are responsible for the advance of America’s enemies.

Under Obama, ISIS developed from al-Qaida and took over a huge part of the Middle East, creating an epic security and humanitarian crisis. And it was all because Obama decided to make a political show of withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq as a 2012 reelection plank instead of basing the decision on U.S. national security interests.

No sooner had Biden taken office than he ran headlong into repeating the same mistake, withdrawing from Afghanistan so the Taliban could have it back after all these years — and after all the blood and treasure spent by America. His retreat allowed the deaths of 13 Americans on the way out, and he lashed out with a strike that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

He is, of course, now aiming to rewrite that legacy:

When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan almost a year ago, I made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm.

And I made a promise to the American people that we’d continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond.

We’ve done just that.

Biden also promised to “never again allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven” or “a launching pad against the United States.” The tragic reality on the ground indicates that’s already happened. Al-Qaida is clearly back in Afghanistan, collaborating with the Taliban and recruiting new jihadis to join the ranks.

In fact, the Taliban condemned the strike that killed al-Zawahiri, and there’s no way they didn’t know he was in Kabul. Providing sanctuary to al-Qaida violates the Doha withdrawal agreement, though that’s the predictable result of Biden’s blunder.

“What interest do we have in Afghanistan with al-Qaida gone?” Biden asked a year ago. As it turns out, al-Qaida isn’t gone, which was known at the time. Al-Qaida is also not leaderless. Saif al Adel is next in line, followed by Abdal-Rahman al-Maghrebi, Yazid Mebrak, and Ahmed Diriye.

Will voters give a failing president any credit for the achievement with al-Zawahiri? Do any Americans really think Biden has kept his promise to restore the “credibility and influence of the United States in the world”? We certainly applaud the strike and the U.S. military for clearly displaying the ability to carry out such an operation successfully. That should serve as a serious warning to the Taliban. We are not, however, convinced that Biden will continue to enjoy the results of similar missions because the threat from Jihadistan remains.


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