Washington: The two-year war in Afghanistan has given American spies the opportunity to monitor terrorist organizations. These terrorist organizations may once again use this troubled country to plan attacks on the United States. But this will end soon.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has allowed intelligence agencies to scramble to find other ways to monitor and deter terrorists. They will have to rely more on technology and their allies in the Afghan government-although once the United States and NATO forces withdraw, Afghanistan will face an increasingly uncertain future.
“You may not be blind, but you’re going to be legally blind,” said Rep. Mike Waltz, a Florida Republican and Green Beret who served in Afghanistan. Waltz said in an interview that while he believed American forces would still be able to detect threats, they would have to respond with lesser intelligence and more complex operations from bases outside the country.
The Afghanistan withdrawal was ordered by President Joe Biden. He has said it’s time to end America’s longest war after two decades of a conflict that killed 2,200 U.S. troops and 38,000 Afghan civilians, with a cost as much as $1 trillion.
But that withdrawal comes with many uncertainties as a resurgent Taliban captures ground and fears mount that the country could soon fall into civil war. The U.S. is still working on agreements to base counterterrorism forces in the region and evacuate thousands of interpreters and other Afghans who helped the American war effort.
CIA Director William Burns testified in April that al-Qaida and Islamic State fighters were still active in Afghanistan and “still committed to restoring the ability to attack American targets.”
“When the U.S. forces withdraw, the ability of the U.S. government to collect threats and take action will diminish. This is just a fact,” Burns said. He added that the CIA and other U.S. agencies “retained a set of capabilities” to monitor and stop threats.
According to two officials familiar with the visit, Burns secretly visited Afghanistan in April and assured Afghan officials that the United States will continue to participate in counter-terrorism efforts.
The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on this story.
The CIA has played a role in Afghanistan for more than 30 years, and its history can be traced back to helping insurgents against the Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989. It is said that during the American War, it attacked terrorist targets and trained Afghan fighters in groups to be called anti-terrorist hunters. Many Afghans are afraid of these groups and are implicated in the extrajudicial killing of civilians.
The Associated Press reported in April that the CIA is preparing to transfer control of these teams in six provinces to the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Security Agency. Experts say the closure of outposts near the border between Afghanistan and Iran and Pakistan will make it more difficult to monitor hostile groups operating in these areas, and the withdrawal of Americans from Afghan institutions may exacerbate an already disturbing corruption problem.
Washington has long struggled to gather intelligence from its allies in Afghanistan. In the first few years of the conflict, the United States was embroiled in competition, causing the scores between the various factions in the country to determine the goals.
Robert Ashley, the retired lieutenant general who led the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2017 to 2020, said that US authorities may be able to replace some of their lost footprints with intercepted communications and public information posted online, especially with The growth of mobile phone networks compared to the 1990s. Ashley said that although the Afghan army is faltering against the Taliban, they can also provide valuable information.
“We should not underestimate their ability to understand the basic facts,” said Ashley, who is now a part-time senior researcher at the New American Security Center. “This is their nature, this is their culture, this is their language.”
Former intelligence officials and experts pointed out that in other countries where militant groups threaten Americans, the CIA and other agencies have had to work without a military presence.
Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who served in Afghanistan and a former Army Ranger, said that Afghanistan’s human resources are already limited, and the United States now has monitoring capabilities that it did not have 20 years ago.
“It will still be very powerful,” Crowe said. “When you don’t have boots on the ground, it’s certainly more challenging, but we have the ability and things to let us deal with this challenge. It just becomes a little difficult.”
Crow and Waltz are members of both parties. They pushed the White House to quickly apply visas for thousands of translators and other Afghans who helped the US military. More than 18,000 applications are currently being processed. Senior US officials said the government plans to evacuate later this summer, but it has not yet determined that one or more countries may be temporarily relocated.
Walz said that failure to protect Afghans awaiting visas could “have a huge chilling effect on those who work with us.”
If the Taliban want to consolidate their control of the country, what are their expectations of the Taliban? The Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported in May that the Taliban’s “hungry for foreign aid and legitimacy may ease its behavior slightly over time,” partly due to international attention and the popularity of telephone calls.
But Colin Clark, director of policy and research at the Sufan Group, said he expects the Taliban to continue to harbor al-Qaeda, and is worried that a possible rebellion may fuel extremists and evolve into a regional conflict similar to what happened in Iraq after the US withdrawal. There.
“I hope we theoretically withdraw from Afghanistan and stay safe,” he said. “This is not what is going to happen in my analysis.”