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Biden says Al-Qaeda is ‘gone’ in Afghanistan, reports suggest terror group still operating there

Reports suggest Al-Qaeda, terror group that executed the 9/11 attacks on U.S., still operating, rebuilding in Afghanistan.

Updated: August 20, 2021 - 4:32pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President  Biden said Friday that Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks is "gone" in Afghanistan, contrary to many sources reporting group is still operating the country. 

“What interest do we have in Afghanistan, at this point, with Al-Qaeda gone?" Biden asked during a national address at the White House.

The Taliban harbored Al-Qaeda prior to the U.S. military entering Afghanistan in 2001 to look for those involved in 9/11. The Taliban allowed the terrorist organization's leader, Osama Bin Laden, to operate training camps for radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks. 

Several recent reports indicate Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the attacks on the U.S., killing nearly 3,000 people, is still operating in Afghanistan and rebuilding.

A United Nations Security Council report published in June said that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda "remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties.”

The New York Times pointed out that the U.N. report also said Al Qaeda has a presence in at least 15 Afghan provinces.

"Al-Qaeda maintains contact with the Taliban but has minimized overt communications with Taliban leadership in an effort to ‘lay low’ and not jeopardize the Taliban’s diplomatic position vis-à-vis the Doha agreement,” read the report, which referenced the agreement the Trump administration had reached with the Taliban.

A U.S. intelligence report from April said Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iran and its militant allies "continue to plot terrorist attacks against U.S. persons and interests, including to varying degrees in the United States."

According to the intelligence report, "despite leadership losses, terrorist groups have shown great resiliency and are taking advantage of ungoverned areas to rebuild."

Biden also said Friday the Taliban has freed ISIS terrorists from a prison in Afghanistan but noted that the Taliban considers ISIS an enemy. According to a report, terrorists with connections to Al-Qaeda were also released from that same prison. 

“We will see Al Qaeda 3.0, they are working closely with the Taliban, and they do intend to attack America again,” said Florida GOP Rep. Michael Waltz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and former Army special forces officer who served in Afghanistan.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Tony Blinken stood next to Biden at the White House when he updated the public on the situation in Afghanistan and made the statements about Al-Qaeda. Harris and Blinken did not speak at the news conference or respond to questions. 

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