Al Qaeda Still a Threat in Afghanistan

The majority of the counterterrorism strikes US forces conducted in Afghanistan last month targeted ISIS, said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the deputy chief of staff for communications for the Resolute Support mission. The estimated number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan—between 1,000 and 3,000—hasn’t changed, but Cleveland said he believes US and Afghan government efforts have reduced their ability to hold territory. The US also continues to monitor al Qaeda, which is beginning to work more closely with the Taliban and could act as “accelerant” by sharing skills and capabilities with the group fighting the Afghan government, said Cleveland, noting the 100 to 300 al Qaeda members believed to be in Afghanistan could still pose a threat. “But the real thing and the real reason why we continue to watch al Qaeda is, I think, as we’ve all seen before, although they have been significantly diminished, they do have the ability to regenerate very quickly…,” he said.