KABUL: US General McKenzie, commander of Central Command, has warned that Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorist networks have been growing in Afghanistan.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Gen. McKenzie talked broadly about US strategies in Middle Eastern countries, including the growth of Al-Qaida and ISIS in Afghanistan and clashes between US forces and Iranian-backed militias near Iraq.
“I believe both Al-Qaeda and ISIS are recruiting both internally and I think in fact internationally,” McKenzie said.
In response to a question about whether the ‘Taliban’ had worked with Al-Qaeda and ISIS or if they were allowing the two groups to “rebuild,” McKenzie said: “They (the Taliban) still have the chance to take action against ISIS, should they choose to do that, and ISIS has certainly attacked the Taliban pretty violently across the entire country. So, I think ISIS would be easy for the Taliban to respond to–I think Al-Qaeda is another far more difficult matter for them to resolve and I think the Taliban, even though they are in control, they are not a monolithic organization. So, I think there are internal arguments inside the Taliban about the way forward–of course what we would like from them to see, what we would like to see from the Taliban, would be a strong position against Al-Qaeda, as they said in the Doha agreement that they would do, but I don’t believe this yet been fully realized.”
Meanwhile, Chief of the Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov told foreign military attaches at a briefing on Thursday that the Collective Security Treaty Organization would prevent “terrorists” from entering the Central Asian States.
“The CSTO will thwart extremists’ attempts to enter Central Asia from Afghanistan. The organization remains a reliable guarantor of security in Central Asia and is capable of ensuring the security of the countries of the region,” Gerasimov said.
“In order to put an end to the activities of international terrorist organizations, there are plans to carry out measures to maintain regional stability and security together with our partners from the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” he added.
But the Islamic Emirate reiterated that Afghanistan will “never” become a safe haven for terrorist groups.
“We deny this allegation. There are no such people. They haven’t grown, nor will they be allowed to grow. We remain committed to our promises. This propaganda is inaccurate,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.
“They should be confident that the proxy war will not happen in Afghanistan again. They (Islamic Emirate) should also assure the world that the Taliban has the ability to counter the extremism groups,” said Samar Saadat, a military veteran.
With the Islamic Emirate swept in power, Russia, the US and regional countries are concerned over the possible rise of ISIS and other extremist groups in the country.