With President Obama’s team gradually admitting al-Qaida’s role in the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan announced that “Al-Qaida has come back.”
“Al-Qaida has come back, [and] is a resilient organization,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen told 60 Minutes last night, per the Armed Forces Press Service. “But they’re not here in large numbers. But al-Qaida doesn’t have to be anywhere in large numbers.” Allen is leader of the International Security Assistance Force.
His remark seems to undercut President Obama’s foreign policy boast from this weekend in Nevada. “And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead,” the president said yesterday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed al-Qaida for the terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens as well as several other American embassy personnel.
“For some time, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries,” Clinton said during a United Nations meeting last week. “Now, with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”
The White House hesitated to make such a statement on the attacks. “Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya,” The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reported. “Nonetheless, it took until late last week for the White House and the administration to formally acknowledge that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack.”
Allen also addressed the recent string of insider attacks, in which presumed allies among the Afghan security forces kill American soldiers.
“I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” Allen said. “We’re going to get after this. It reverberates everywhere across the United States. We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”
He added that the threat of insider attacks in Afghanistan is comparable to the threat of IED bombs that the U.S. faced in Iraq.
“In Iraq, the signature weapon system that we hadn’t seen before was the [improvised explosive device],” Allen explained. “We had to adjust to that. Here, I think the signature attack that we’re beginning to see is going to be the insider attack.”