JOINT Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley warned of an increased threat of terror attacks on US soil after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on Sunday, according to a new report.
Milley told a bipartisan group of Senators on a call earlier today that the Islamist outfit captured the country far quicker than President Joe Biden and other top military leaders had anticipated, Axios reported.
The Taliban’s return to power was all but solidified on Sunday morning after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the fanatics stormed the capital city of Kabul and seized his palace.
They have now captured every city in Afghanistan, with 28 of the country’s 34 provinces now under the group’s control.
As a result, Milley warned that a previous assessment of how soon terrorist groups will likely reemerge in the nation will now speed up due to the events of the last week.
The ominous warning is of incredible significance because protecting the US against terrorist threats on domestic soil was the original reason for engaging in the 20-year conflict to begin with.
During the call with Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham asked whether they will revise an assessment to Congress in June that classified a “medium” risk of terrorist groups reconstituting within two years of withdrawal.
“Yes,” Milley responded about changing the threat assessment, three sources on the call told Axios.
Milley also said that he’d be willing to brief senators in classified settings on the unfolding situation in the Middle East.
Senators on the call reportedly pressed Milley and Austin on efforts to evacuate US personnel and Afghan allies out of the country as images of a helicopter evacuation at the US Embassy in Kabul emerged.
A source on the call said the sad reality is there is no way they can evacuate the more than 20,000 Afghans who want to escape the country by August 31.
Many of them aren’t in Kabul, the source said according to Axios, and “if you’re not in Kabul now how do you get to Kabul?”
“Two takeaways for me,” the source continued. “We’re gonna leave tens of thousands of people behind… and the timeline in terms of threats has accelerated.”
In July, the Biden administration said it believed it could take months for Afghanistan’s national forces and government to fall.
However, following Biden’s total troop withdrawal, the Taliban was able to take over almost the entire country in just a week.
Similar to Milley, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to CNN on Sunday that the White House had made a miscalculation.
“The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that that force has been unable to defend the country,” Blinken said of Afghanistan’s national forces. “And that’s happened more quickly than we anticipated.”
Despite the swiftly escalating situation, the Biden administration has stood by its decision to withdraw from the nation while, at the same time, shifting blame onto former President Donald Trump for the unfolding crisis.
BIDEN BLAMES TRUMP
Biden said on Saturday that Trump had left the Taliban “in the strongest military position since 2001” and blasted his decision to set a May 1, 2021 deadline for the drawdown during his final months in office.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces,” a statement read.
“Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500.
“Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
Blinken also blamed Trump for setting the drawdown deadline, which he claims forced Biden’s hand.
“Like it or not, there was an agreement that the forces would come out on May 1,’ Blinken told CNN.
“Had we not begun that process, which is what the president did and the Taliban saw, then we would have been back at war with the Taliban, and we would have been back at war with tens of thousands of troops having to go in because the 2,500 troops we had there and the airpower would not have sufficed,” he said.
TALIBAN ON VERGE OF POWER
Twenty years after they were ejected by the US and its allies in the wake of 9/11 the Taliban stand on the brink of being back in power.
In scenes that echoed the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, helicopters were seen ferrying US embassy staff to safety at a secure area near the airport earlier today.
Taliban forces also released 5,000 prisoners from a jail on the outskirts of Kabul and took control of an airbase.
Kabul airport is to remain open for foreigners to leave, the Taliban said, and flights were continuing to operate.
Terrified residents have already begun fleeing in their cars leading to traffic jams, with a huge number of people now massing at the country’s borders.
The Taliban appeared to offer an amnesty for government forces and said they want a “peaceful transfer of power”.
“No one’s life, property, and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the Taliban said.