Al-Qaeda could regroup in Afghanistan in as little as one to two years and have the capacity to threaten the American homeland, according to a top US intelligence official.
In comments that underscored the growing concern in Western capitals about the ability for Al-Qaeda and other militant groups to once again make use of Afghanistan as a base of operations, Lt Gen Scott Berrier, Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, said his assessment was “conservative”.
“The current assessment probably conservatively is one to two years for Al-Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” he said, addressing the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit.
The New York Timessaid the thrust of Mr Berrier’s comments were echoed by David Cohen, the deputy director of the CIA.
He said a major challenge in seeking to determine the threat timeline was, knowing when Al-Qaeda or Isis-K, would “have the capability to go to strike the homeland” before they could be detected.
“We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence,” he said in an address from the White House.
“If necessary, we will do the same in Afghanistan. We’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region and to act quickly and decisively if needed.”