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Concerns over US terror threats rising as Taliban hold grows

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Posted at 11:43 PM, Aug 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 07:35:36-04

America's top general says the United States could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan. That warning comes as intelligence agencies charged with anticipating those threats face new questions after the U.S.-backed Afghan military collapsed with shocking speed.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told senators on a briefing call Sunday that U.S. officials are expected to alter their earlier assessments about the pace of terrorist groups reconstituting in Afghanistan, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Sunday call comes months after top Pentagon officials said in June that extremist group al-Qaida may be able to re-form and could pose a threat to the U.S. within two years of American troop withdrawals.

According to the Associated Press, Biden administration officials on the call with senators said U.S. intelligence agencies are working on forming a new timeline based on the evolving threats, the person familiar with the matter said.

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. has been removing troops from the region ahead of an Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline set by the Biden administration. The withdrawal comes after the Trump administration negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban in 2020.

Over the weekend, Taliban forces appeared to take control of Afghanistan, forcing the country's president to flee.

During a July 8 press conference, President Joe Biden defended his withdrawal plan, noting that the U.S. had accomplished its goal in Afghanistan because Osama bin Laden had been killed, and terror attacks had stopped emanating from the region. He also expressed confidence in the Afghan army at that time, claiming that they were better equipped, better trained and outnumbered those in the Taliban.