After the return of the Taliban, will Afghanistan once again become “a terrorist sanctuary”?

These are the deadliest attacks ever. On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four airliners which crashed, between 8.46 am and 10.03 am, on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Results: 2,977 people were killed, 6,291 others injured. The Americans quickly suspected the head of the Al-Qaida terrorist organization, Osama bin Laden, of being behind these attacks. The Saudi is in hiding in Afghanistan, a country ruled by the Taliban. President George W. Bush, who has declared the “war on terror”, asks them to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States. What they refuse. The consequences are not long in coming. On October 7, American and British forces invaded the country.

“The Taliban could have prevented the case from escalating if they had extradited Bin Laden”, explains Alain Rodier, research director at the French Intelligence Research Center (CF2R) and author ofAl-Qaeda, the global connections of terrorism (Ellipses). The Americans will take 10 years to find and kill the jihadist in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On the other hand, it only took a few months for them to overthrow the Taliban, on the pretext “that they did not respect the universal values ​​that the United States is trying to spread throughout the world”, continues the researcher. But last August, the Taliban took advantage of the withdrawal of American troops to return to power, 20 years after being ousted.

Long-standing ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaida

“This raises fears of a return of Al-Qaida, which had been driven from its Afghan sanctuary in 2001,” warns Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the Center for Terrorism Analysis. Afghanistan could become “a terrorist sanctuary”, he said, using the terms used by Emmanuel Macron in his speech on August 16. The risk is that the country constitutes “a rear base for Al-Qaida, which is very present in the border area with Pakistan”. The hypothesis is all the stronger as “in recent weeks, the Taliban have released a certain number of detainees, including members of Al-Qaida, executives”, observes Jean-Charles Brisard. Further, “There are long-standing ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaida. They are still very strong, ”he insists. The Taliban, who presented their new government, have also appointed Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the eponymous network, described as terrorist by Washington and historically close to Al-Qaida, to the interior.

But the new masters of Afghanistan have not forgotten that the attacks of September 11, orchestrated by the terrorist group, had cost them power. For Alain Rodier, the Taliban will, at least for a while, ensure that Al-Qaida fighters “do not come to Afghanistan to prepare actions abroad”. “For the moment, their problem is to support this country of 38 million inhabitants”. So now is not the time for war. The CF2R research director believes that “the terrorist risk, at present, comes much more from Daesh which, in order to exist, might want to trigger something”. The Afghan branch of ISIS has also claimed responsibility for the deadly attack near Kabul airport on August 26, a double attack that left at least 72 dead and dozens injured.

An “emulation” in the jihadosphere

All that remains is the Taliban takeover “created in the jihadosphere an obvious emulation which can contribute to reinforce the terrorist threat”, notes for his part Jean-Charles Brisard. “She is of such symbolic force that she can inspire people to take action. “A threat taken all the more seriously since Al-Qaida broadcast on July 15 a video aimed at” condemning the blasphemy embodied by the cartoons of Mohammed “, in which France is” vilified “.

The president of the CAT also fears an increase in the number of Europeans leaving for Afghanistan to wage jihad, “especially in the context of an open conflict between two forces, Al-Qaida and Daesh”. For specialists, Afghanistan represented an important place in French jihadism before 2001, well before the massive departures to Iraq and Syria in 2014 and 2015. A fear shared by Marc Trévidic, former anti-terrorism judge,
who entrusted our colleagues with Days recently: “I see the future very badly. We will once again have a pole of attraction [pour les candidats au djihad]. Not right away, but he will come. “Seasoned fighters who, back in France, will constitute a major threat.

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