Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Monday that terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq currently pose a greater threat to the US homeland than Afghanistan.
why it matters: The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has prompted new warnings from military and intelligence officials about the possibility of a restructuring of al-Qaeda.
But as top Biden officials Repeatedly warned, the terrorist threat has “metastasized” to such an extent that terrorist groups based in Afghanistan are no longer the top threat facing the US
- Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, al-Shabaab in Somalia and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – although it has been severely degraded in recent years – are among the terrorist groups currently high on the US priority list .
- ISIS-K, a branch of the Islamic State responsible for the bombing of Kabul’s airport that killed 13 American servicemen and several Afghan civilians, is seen as the top threat in Afghanistan.
What are they saying: “In the context of the homeland, the threat right now from terrorist groups, we do not prioritize Afghanistan at the top of the list,” Haynes said at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit. “What we see is Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq for ISIS. And that’s where we see the biggest threat.”
- However, Haines stressed that the US wants to “monitor any possible reorganization of terrorist organizations” in Afghanistan, and acknowledged that the Taliban takeover made counter-terrorism more challenging.
- “Our intelligence collection has gone down and that’s something we have to prepare for and for which we’ve obviously been preparing for a long time,” she said.
go in: Red flags for Biden’s “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism strategy