As President Joe Biden marks a decade since the killing of former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, Afghan officials and security analysts are worried that terrorism could re-emerge as a threat in Afghanistan.
"We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell — and we got him," Biden said on Sunday, May 2, as he marked the 10-year anniversary of the events.
Ten years ago, U.S. special forces killed bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
"Now, as a result of those efforts, as we bring to an end America’s longest war and draw down the last of our troops from Afghanistan, al-Qaida is greatly degraded there," Biden said.
Some 10,000 NATO soldiers involved in a training mission are currently withdrawing from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 at the latest.
But violence continues. The Taliban overran a checkpoint in the south-eastern Ghazni province on Friday night. On Sunday, it remained unclear what had happened to some 30 soldiers there.
Afghan civilians also expressed fears about the withdrawal. As wealthier and liberal Afghans seek to leave the country, Kabul brokers said they had many properties for sale but no one wanted to buy them. Others tried to sell their cars and other goods to have cash available just in case.
Few have faith in the peace negotiations under way between the Taliban and the government. Ending the war through negotiations is the "least likely scenario," said the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a think tank based in Kabul.
Guido Steinberg, a regional expert at the SWP foreign policy institute in Berlin, also warned of a resurgence of terror after the withdrawal of the U.S.
He predicted the Taliban would gain power, and might ally with al-Qaida, and warned this could potentially attract extremists from around the world.
A U.N. report last year said al-Qaida's leadership remained present in Afghanistan, and is in contact with the Taliban.
Steinberg said international jihadism was more fragmented than in the past, but warned that the situation in Afghanistan could come to resemble that in Iraq after the U.S. withdrew in 2011. There, the extremist group Islamic State gradually gained strength, overrunning large parts of the country.
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