Afghanistan warns of al-Qaeda resurgence

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 file photo, Afghan National Army soldiers guard a checkpoint on the way to the Sangin district of Helmand province, Afghanistan. After months of ferocious fighting, Afghan army units battling the Taliban in southern Helmand province are facing major restructuring and leadership changes, with several key commanders being replaced, a U.S. military official said Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. (AP Photos/Abdul Khaliq, File)

(CNN) – Remember why the United States came to Afghanistan?  Well, al-Qaeda are back and thriving a ‘big threat’, finding safe haven there, according to Afghanistan’s defense chief.

Even U.S. officials here admit there’s a lot they don’t know, and there could be hundreds of al-Qaeda core members.

“They are really very active. They are working in quiet and reorganizing themselves and preparing themselves for more bigger attacks. They are working behind other networks, giving them support and the experience they had in different places.  They are not talking too much. They are not making press statements. It is a big threat,” said Defense Minister, Masoom Stanikzai.

A big threat, they say, because the Taliban, who were said to have regretted harboring Bin Laden, have again decided to get close to Al-Qaeda.

“The big cover is the Taliban, because they are enabling Al-Qaeda, isil,” Stanikzai continued.  “Because as you know they need the fighters, they need the support and they need their recruitment from other places, and this is why they embrace them.”

Alarms were raised by a thirty square mile camp found and obliterated by afghan and us forces in a remote part of Kandahar late last year, revealing their true strength to afghan and U.S. officials.

“Very sophisticated with ties back into Al-Qaeda, and a subset called Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, to find them in Afghanistan was quite troubling. If you go back to last year there were a lot of intel estimates that said that within Afghanistan Al-Qaeda probably has 50-100 operators or 50-100 actual members in Afghanistan, but this one camp we found more than 150,” said U.S. BG Chief of Staff, Jeff Buchanan.

Al Qaeda’s resurgence and its closer link to the Taliban brings one key headache for the united states and afghan policy here as well. They all agree they need to talk to the Taliban to agree to some kind of settlement but that is hard frankly if the man that is the number two is still considered by the united states to be the key facilitator here in Afghanistan.

That’s an enormous obstacle for any peace talks and the Taliban have to effectively renounce the al Qaeda again and that is actually the opposite of what they are currently doing. Al Qaeda’s resurgence is such an issue here given the original premise of the american intervention and how now security is slipping very fast.

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