U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conceded Thursday the al-Qaeda global terrorist group that used Afghanistan as a base to attack the U.S. in 2001 may now be free to regroup there and take on the world following America’s rushed withdrawal.
“The whole community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaeda has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan,” he said.
“The nature of al-Qaeda and (the Islamic State group) is they will always attempt to find space to grow and regenerate, whether it’s there, whether it’s in Somalia, or whether it’s in any other ungoverned space. I think that’s the nature of the organization.”
AP reports the retired Army general said the U.S. is prepared to prevent an al-Qaeda comeback in Afghanistan that would threaten America although he acknowledged it will be more difficult without troops and intelligence teams based on the ground.