A former Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, has warned that a new 9/11 attack could come from Islamist terrorists in that country if the West withdraws assistance given. Not only do the Taliban want to regain control of Afghanistan, he said, but there is a risk the Islamic State (IS) could also increase its influence.
Colonel Kemp is well-versed in the politics of the region, having been Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. Hence why his warning that “huge corruption,” a lack of resources and the myth of there being a “moderate Taliban” means there is a danger it could once again become a “safe haven for terrorism” should be taken seriously.
Bolstering his argument Colonel Kemp drew parallels with the experience of Iraq following British withdrawal there last year, reports The Daily Telegraph. Once the soldiers had left IS forces moved in, taking huge swathes of Iraqi territory as it expanded its so-called ‘Caliphate’.
He warned that President Obama’s pledge to close the last American bases located in Afghanistan and consolidate forces in Kabul by the end of 2016 risks the equivalent outcome.
Colonel Kemp was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme after the Taliban had retaken Musa Qala, strategically-important district headquarters in Afghanistan’s Helmand province which they had lost to the NATO-backed Afghan army in 2007. Speaking of Western withdrawal he said:
“That is when the risk really kicks in of Afghanistan again becoming a safe-haven for terrorism launched against the West…
“We may then risk the same situation in Afghanistan as we’ve seen in Iraq when all US forces withdrew in 2016. So I think it’s important that not only US but other NATO forces put a significant effort in to assisting the Afghan government for as long as is needed.”
He went on to warn that the Afghan Taliban are not the only players to be feared:
“We are not just seeing the threat from the Taliban in Afghanistan, we are also seeing the Islamic State expending their influence into Afghanistan.
“Now hopefully they’re not going to gain the same traction as they have in Iraq and Syria. But either way we are going to see Islamic extremists dominating parts of Afghanistan and that needs to be contained.”
Warning against “writing off” Afghanistan and leaving it to its own resources, Colonel Kemp added:
“…that could well happen as it happened in Iraq in 2012. But I think the danger with that is we do again see another 9/11. The problem is the situation is getting worse not better.”