The United States on Friday acknowledged the presence of al Qaeda in Afghanistan amid its large-scale evacuation from the war-torn country.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the presence of al Qaeda is not significant enough to merit a threat to our homeland as it used to be 20 years ago.
Experts have raised concerns that Afghanistan might again become a breeding ground for terrorism with the Taliban taking control of the country.
“We know that al Qaeda is a presence as well as ISIS in Afghanistan and we’ve talked about that for quite some time,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a press briefing.
Kirby said they do not believe the number of al Qaeda terrorists in the country “is exorbitantly high but we don’t have an exact figure for you.” He said their “intelligence gathering ability in Afghanistan isn’t what it used to be”.
Pentagon press secretary’s remarks came shortly after, US President Joe Biden, “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with al Qaeda gone?”
Defending Biden’s remarks, Kirby said “what we believe is that there isn’t a presence that is significant enough to merit a threat to our homeland as there was back on 9/11, 20 years ago.”
As per the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha last year, the Taliban vowed to cut ties to al Qaeda.
Last month, the United Nations had warned that the threat from terror groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda is expanding in many places in Afghanistan and said the security situation remains fragile with uncertainty surrounding the peace process and a risk of further deterioration.
During the presser, Kirby also provided few details on 169 Americans who were brought to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“Some of our troops, in a short amount of time, we were able to go out of the airport (in Kabul) and retrieve 169 people who were close to the perimeter of the airport,” he said and added that “It wasn’t a rescue so much as assisting them getting onto the field.”