Biden Admin Refuses To Answer Whether Al Qaeda, ISIS Pose Terror Threat Outside Gates At Kabul Airport
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- AUGUST 20, 2021: A boy selling Taliban flags, brings his ware towards a military vehicle, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. On a quiet intersection outside the central downtown area, two boys were standing in the middle of the road selling oversized white Taliban flags and Taliban lawn flags to put on vehicles. A coyote brown military pick up SUV drives up, and Mullah Esmatullah Khadir, 30, from Musa Qala district in Helmand province, waves to one of the boys to sell him a flag. The boy runs excitedly across the street. The mullah jumps out and lands on his shiny leather loafers and climbs on to the back of the pickup SUV. He then adjusts it onto the antenna pole on the back of the military vehicle. He grins.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to answer a question at a press conference on Saturday about whether terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda were operating outside the gates at the Kabul airport.

The question came after the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan warned U.S. citizens to stay away from the Kabul airport earlier in the day amid “potential security threats outside the gates.”

“U.S. officials said the most serious current threat was that Afghanistan’s branch of the Islamic State would attempt an attack that would hurt the Americans and damage the Taliban’s sense of control,” The New York Times reported. “It was unclear how capable ISIS is of such an attack, the officials said.”

When asked whether Islamic terrorist groups were operating outside the gate, Kirby responded: “We’re not going to get into specific details about the threat environment or what our intelligence has given us.”


CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang highlighted a report from one of her network’s foreign correspondents: “A former Afghan interpreter who tried to get into the airport today – for the fifth time- said Taliban outside the airport told people that ISIS is planning an attack.”

The news comes after Taliban extremists handed over the security of Kabul to senior members of the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist organization that has close ties with other jihadist groups, including Al-Qaeda.

VOA News reported:

Western intelligence officials say the assignment is alarming and undercuts Taliban promises to tread a more moderate path than the movement did when it ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.

It also raises the prospect of al-Qaida being welcomed back to Afghanistan, they fear, which would break promises made by Taliban leaders during diplomatic talks in Qatar with U.S. officials last year, not to allow the country to again become a safe haven for foreign jihadists.

The Congressional Research Service published a paper last week outlining the different terrorist organizations that operate in Afghanistan, which included the Haqqani Network:

The Haqqani Network is an official, semi-autonomous component of the Afghan Taliban and an ally of [Al-Qaeda]. It was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a leading anti-Soviet Islamist commander who became a prominent Taliban official and eventually a key leader in the post-2001 insurgency. The Taliban confirmed his death from natural causes in September 2018.

The group’s current leader is Jalaluddin’s son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has also served as the deputy leader of the Taliban since 2015. Sirajuddin’s appointment to lead the network likely strengthened cooperation between the Taliban and AQ; U.N. monitors describe the Haqqani Network as the “primary liaison” between the Taliban and AQ. The April 2021 U.N. report indicates disagreement among Member States about whether the Haqqani Network collaborates tactically with ISKP.

The Haqqani Network is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks of the war in Afghanistan, including the death or injury of hundreds of U.S. troops, and has historically been described as close to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

This report has been updated to include additional information.

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