In the wake of the Taliban's takeover of the capital city of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, US Intelligence officials are warning that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda could reform in Afghanistan in as little as six months.
"Foreign intelligence officials said they are detecting signs that the Taliban's victory has energized global jihadists, a threat that may only grow as the Taliban releases al-Qaeda operatives who were imprisoned by the Afghan government," wrote The Washington Post on Tuesday.
One intelligence official from an unnamed Arab nation, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said that there has been an uptick in communications regarding recent developments in Afghanistan. They added that the Taliban takeover "is encouraging many jihadists to think about traveling to Afghanistan now instead of Syria or Iraq."
One European intelligence official said that the Taliban's win in Kabul has become a "rallying cry" for jihadist sympathizers. "The U.S. appears in all of this now as a weak nation," he said.
It was previously said by US intelligence officials that it would take al-Qaeda 2 years to reform in Afghanistan. According to Nathan Sales, who served as a senior counterterrorism official during the Trump administration, said that timeline could be as little as six months now.
With Afghanistan now under hostile control, officials worry about a blackout in intelligence after military bases and air fields were taken over, effectively blocking the military from operating nearby in counterterrorism efforts.
The US military, according to The Washington Post, may have to resort to flying drones and aircraft from facilities in Gulf nations over hostile nations that may result in an attack with no way to send help easily.
"We are now back to 1998, where the Clinton administration was launching missiles at desert camps and hoping to hit something," Sales said. "That wasn't enough to prevent 9/11, and returning to that is not a recipe for success."
A veteran intelligence officer who served as a CIA base chief in Afghanistan, Marc Polymeropoulos, outlined the extraordinary downturn in events.
"The counterterrorism posture went from problematic with the U.S. withdrawal to extraordinarily bad with the Taliban in full control," said Polymeropoulos. "Suddenly one wonders if we will go entirely dark. It’s like a bad dream."