The Daily Telegraph (UK) has published some very ominous quotes from Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the State Department’s man in Kabul. While many in Washington are trying to downplay the importance of Afghanistan to al Qaeda, Crocker is saying the opposite — in no uncertain terms.
“If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back,” Crocker told the Telegraph. “Al Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”
“We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” Crocker said. “We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”
The Telegraph also notes that, according to NATO, “up to 100 al Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan.” And that’s not all. “Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change.”
Remember that, according to an estimate released by US intelligence officials and endorsed by high-level administration officials, there are only 50 to 100 al Qaeda operatives inside Afghanistan at any one time. Bill Roggio has exposed the fallacies of that estimate on multiple occasions. [See, for example, here.] Now we have a report that 100 more al Qaeda operatives have returned to Afghanistan in recent months, and hundreds more wait across the border for a good opportunity to join them.
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