In a world where the Islamic State is already inflicting unbearable amount of terror, it seems like their old partner in crime has resurrected from the dead.
It has been reported that Al-Qaeda is very much in the rise. It is in fact “very active” and a “big threat” in Afghanistan, Afghanistan’s top defense official has warned U.S authorities.
U.S officials were concerned about al Qaeda leaders in remote areas of the country. The officials now fear that there may be many more core operatives in Afghanistan than it was previously assumed.
The threats couldn’t have come at a worse time than now, as Afghanistan is anticipating perhaps the most significant summer fighting season in a long time. The government’s security forces now face probably the biggest problem, as the Taliban is increasing its territory and building links to al Qaeda, and Islamic State is steadily increasing influence in the country.
Acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanikzai told CNN that al Qaeda were keeping a low profile but expanding.
“They are really very active. They are working in quiet and reorganizing themselves and preparing themselves for bigger attacks,” he said.
“They are working behind other networks, giving them support and the experience they had in different places. And double their resources and recruitment and other things. That is how — they are not talking too much. They are not making press statements. It is a big threat.”
The recent discovery and destruction of an al Qaeda training camp in Kandahar province meant previous U.S. estimates of the group’s strength were being revised. Major General Jeff Buchanan, Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, told CNN.
“If you go back to last year, there were a lot of estimates that said within Afghanistan al Qaeda probably has 50 to 100 members, but in this one camp we found more than 150.”
He admitted that U.S is not fully aware of the situation there.
The core focus of the radical Islamic groups still remain the west, he warned.
“There’s not thousands of them, but clearly in remote parts of Afghanistan there are al Qaeda leaders we’re concerned about and what they’re capable of doing.”
U.S. authorities have assumed that as many as 300 core operatives are actually active in Afghanistan, but the numbers exclude other facilitators and sympathizers in their network.
The defense minister is keeping a keen eye on the resurgence of the Islamic group.
“They are working behind other networks, giving them support and the experience they had in different places. And double their resources and recruitment and other things. That is how — they are not talking too much. They are not making press statements. It is a big threat,” Stanikzai added.
Though the Islamic group is starting to get increasingly fearful, the situation as of now does not look good for them either. They are in need of a huge number of fighters to rise to their strengths.
The training camps of Al-Qaeda were ruined by a prolonged operation by U.S. Special Forces and Afghan commandos in October.
Though al-Qaeda finds Pakistan “quite troubling” according to Stanikzai, Al Qaeda is largely quiet in the Indian subcontinent and is not linked much with Afghanistan.
The discovery of the rise of the terror groups brings up further problems for Afghanistan, which was slowly rising to become a major tourist hub in the Indian subcontinent.
Regarding the newfound brotherhood between the two notorious organizations, Stanikzai said
“The big cover is the Taliban,” said Stanikzai.
“They need the fighters, they need the support and they need recruitment from other places, and this is why (the Taliban) embrace them.”
“Many leaders in the Taliban are willing to enter into constructive peace talks. From a military point of view, we have to have the flexibility to target them. When it comes to negotiation, you cannot just burn everything.”, Stanikzai added.