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Department of Defense continues to downplay Taliban and Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan


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FDD's Long War Journal

Bill Roggio

May 19, 2022

The U.S. military continues to underestimate Al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan and overestimate the threat posed by the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.

The newly released Department of Defense Inspector General report on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS, the now-defunct mission in Afghanistan) and Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES, the current mission to address threats emanating from Afghanistan) puts the number of Al Qaeda operatives in the low hundreds.

Additionally, the report somehow elevated the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province as the primary threat in Afghanistan, over the Taliban, which controls the country and shelters numerous regional and global terror groups, including Al Qaeda.

Stale U.S. military estimates of Al Qaeda’s strength


The U.S. military prioritized the ISKP threat after it emerged in Afghanistan in 2015, and focused an inordinate amount of energy to hunt down and destroy the group, often while cooperating with the Taliban. The U.S. military began to view the Taliban as a partner in peace, and backed State Department negotiations with the Taliban, and even claimed it could be an effective counterterrorism partner.

All with dissasterous consequences.

The U.S. military has continually grossly misjudged the threat in Afghanistan before the withdrawal, and to the surprise of no one, that did not change today.


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