The CIA chief is said to have traveled to Afghanistan without notice

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — CIA Director William Burns told The Associated Press as concerns grew about Afghanistan’s ability to fight war on terror after the United States withdrew the rest. Military by summer.

Separately, former Afghan security officials familiar with the country’s anti-terrorism program have said that two of the six units trained and operated by the CIA to track extremists are already under Afghan control. He said it had been transferred.

The three men spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have the authority to discuss sensitive security issues with the media.

In Washington, the CIA declined to comment when asked about the director’s schedule and the role of the institution in Afghanistan.

In deciding to withdraw unconditionally by September 11, President Joe Biden said that the main purpose of the U.S. invasion, the prevention of terrorist attacks on the U.S. from Afghan soil, was achieved this month. Insisted. The withdrawal deadline commemorates the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the United States that caused the United States to invade Afghanistan.

However, senior US officials warn that withdrawal poses a risk.

Burns recently told Congress that neither al-Qaeda nor Islamic State militants have the ability to launch attacks on the United States. Still, “when the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish, which is just a fact.”

Burns quietly visited Kabul last weekend, politicians and public figures said. They didn’t say who Burns met, but said some of the discussions dealt with Afghanistan’s preparations after the withdrawal of the United States. Burns also reassured Afghan authorities that the United States would continue to engage in anti-terrorism efforts.

However, there is growing concern that Afghan security forces will not be able to stop the Taliban rebels march on government-owned territories or fight terrorist groups without the help of U.S. and NATO soldiers. .. Already, the Taliban dominate or control more than half of the country.

Former security officials said they believed that the departure of approximately 2,500 to 3,500 US troops and 7,000 alliance NATO soldiers would significantly reduce their ability to fight terrorism.

Officials said the CIA had trained and operated Afghan special forces known as the Anti-Terrorism Tracking Team (CTPT). Teams are located in the provinces of Kunal, Paktia, Kandahar, Kabul, Host and Nangarhar. He said the plan was to gradually hand them over to Afghan intelligence, known as the National Directorate of Security. So far, he said, Kunal and Paktia’s troops have been transferred to Afghanistan’s control.

The CTPT team is feared by many Afghans and is involved in extrajudicial killings of civilians. In 2019, Masoom Stanikzai, head of intelligence in Afghanistan, said These units were involved in the summary execution of four brothers.

Earlier this year, in eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province, one of the teams was accused of shooting down civilians in a counter-terrorism operation. The United Nations has also criticized the tactics of these units, previously condemning the increase in civilian casualties with rebel groups.

Former security officials said technical intelligence gathering in Afghanistan would suffer without the US military. Currently, some of the greatest successes in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking come from US intelligence gathering, he said. A few months ago, US intelligence agencies discovered dozens of methamphetamine laboratories producing more than $ 1 billion in street-worthy drugs in the west, officials added.

Meanwhile, the US and Afghan governments believe that threats from al-Qaeda and Afghan Islamic State affiliates have been significantly reduced.

General Frank Mackenzie, the U.S. Supreme General of the Middle East, told the U.S. Senate Military Commission on Tuesday that recent U.S. military pressure has “significantly worsened” both groups in Afghanistan.

However, he said the situation after the withdrawal would be difficult. McKenzie said bringing drones and other aircraft to Afghanistan to provide overhead surveillance and conduct anti-terrorism strikes would take a considerable amount of time and would require far more aircraft.

He also said it would be very It is difficult but not impossible for the United States to find, track and eliminate the threat of terrorism In Afghanistan, all US troops will withdraw.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Western diplomat said the unexpected US announcement of an unconditional withdrawal answered many security questions, including what would happen to NATO’s surveillance equipment and a giant airship floating above the capital. I said I didn’t. The airship provides real-time intelligence and 24-hour surveillance.

Professor David Barrett of Villanova University, who specializes in the history of intelligence policy, said the withdrawal of troops would be gathered by the military and ultimately reduce the amount of intelligence provided to the CIA. However, he said the United States could monitor electronic communications and other signals with its advanced technology and could intervene militarily if it assessed threats to US targets.

“We have an amazing ability to know what’s happening on earth,” he said. “Anyone who decides to develop the ability to attack the United States somewhere in Afghanistan will make a huge mistake.”


Washington Associated Press author Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.