UK 'vulnerable' to terror amid Afghan security vacuum warns expert
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Terror fears surged on Thursday when at least 72 people were killed, including 12 US service personnel, after two explosions and a vicious gunfight outside Kabul airport in Afghanistan, where thousands of people are trying to flee the country. Islamic State said on its Telegram account it was behind the twin blasts and gunfire outside the airport after it was widely believed affiliate ISIS-K had been responsible. It is believed suicide bombers carried out the horrific attacks close to where thousands of people have been desperately waiting in order to evacuate the crisis-hit country.
The Taliban insisted it “strongly” condemned the attack, but there are accelerating fears the groups capture of Afghanistan could lead to the horrific resurgence of vastly dangerous terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Barbara Kelemen, associate and lead intelligence analyst for Asia at security intelligence firm Dragonfly (the new identity of the former Intelligence & Analysis practice of The Risk Advisory Group) believes the Taliban will allow Al-Qaeda militants to remain in Afghanistan.
The security intelligence expert fears the militants will remain in Afghanistan and “improve their capabilities”.
Ms Kelemen, responding to a question over whether there is an increasing threat of Afghanistan becoming a hotbed for harbouring and training terrorists, told Express.co.uk: “Based on ideology and UN reports, we know the relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remains close.
“It is likely the Taliban will allow these militants to stay in the country.
“The question is to what extent will they control them and whether they will actually be able to enforce this.
“It is likely these militants will remain present there and improve their capabilities on the Afghan soil.
“I suspect the Taliban will try to moderate certain groups because of their own interests, but the question is whether they can do that.”
The security intelligence expert also fears the Taliban will also not be able to control Al-Qaeda threats of targeting US and European interests throughout the world.
She believes the terror group will now ramp up attacks on Western interests in countries close to Afghanistan and throughout the world where there are growing insurgencies.
When asked whether Al-Qaeda’s resurgence could become a launchpad for attacks against the US and Europe, Ms Kelemen replied: “We saw that happening in the past.
“The Taliban have probably tried to prevent it, but it’s not clear they will be able to do that.
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“For a long time, Al-Qaeda has said it is intent on targeting US and European interests.
“We will see this group attacking Western interests in countries surrounding Afghanistan, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh or in other parts of the world where there are ongoing insurgencies.
“This will improve the capabilities of these groups in these countries.”
Earlier this week, in a press conference following an emergency virtual meeting of G7 leaders , President Joe Biden warned of the increasing terror risk to US and allied troops staying in Afghanistan beyond August 31.
He said: “There are real and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration the longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of attack by a terrorist group known as ISISK, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, which is a sworn enemy of the Taliban as well.
“Every day we are on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.”
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