On Sept. 30, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a program, aptly titled “The Longest War,” that discussed al Qaeda’s resurgence in Afghanistan. You can watch the program [above].
The program makes several points that we here at The Long War Journal have made for years: al Qaeda has provided key assistance to the Taliban, including training and personnel [see our report on the Shadow Army from February 2009]; al Qaeda remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and has a safe haven in Kunar (we warned about this starting in 2009); and the US military’s own press releases detail the reach of al Qaeda and other terror groups in the country (LWJ has been covering this exclusively for years, in painstaking detail).
See the following excerpt from the program’s transcript:
[Narrator:] He [a Taliban commander] told us al Qaeda fighters are rushing to Afghanistan and that he has more than a dozen of them under his command. He also said they have been the driving force that has made the Taliban more lethal on the battlefield.
LOGAN: Are you the only commander with al Qaeda fighters?
TALIBAN COMMANDER: There are many groups that have them. We can’t do this without them.
LOGAN: What skills do the al Qaeda fighters bring?
TALIBAN COMMANDER: They are masters of everything. For example, making IEDs, something we don’t know how to do. But they are teaching us. They are also master engineers and good with all weapons. When our weapons break, they are the ones who repair them. We can’t do this without them.
LOGAN: While the U.S. has been saying for a long time that al Qaeda in Afghanistan is almost defeated, the U.S. military’s own reports from the battlefield reveal a very different picture.
They are rich with detail about al Qaeda’s leaders and operations today, confirming the existence of al Qaeda training camps and multiple attack cells. Among those they say they’ve killed are al Qaeda weapons and explosives experts. In one month, the U.S. says it killed more than 25 al Qaeda leaders and fighters.
Kudos to 60 Minutes for covering these angles, they have long been ignored in the press.
Just over a week after Lara Logan released the report, she spoke to a government association in Chicago and provided a frank view of the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Logan said “there is a major lie being propagated” that al Qaeda and the Taliban have been defeated (she doesn’t say by whom, but Obama administration officials, led by John Brennan, have pushed these memes). “The Taliban and al-Qaida have not been vanquished …. They’re coming back,” she said. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Her ominous and frightening message was gleaned from years of covering our wars in the Middle East. She arrived in Chicago on the heels of her Sept. 30 report, “The Longest War.” It examined the Afghanistan conflict and exposed the perils that still confront America, 11 years after 9/11.
Eleven years later, “they” still hate us, now more than ever, Logan told the crowd. The Taliban and al-Qaida have not been vanquished, she added. They’re coming back.
“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . .” Logan declared in her native South African accent.
The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban.
“There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”
Logan stepped way out of the “objective,” journalistic role. The audience was riveted as she told of plowing through reams of documents, and interviewing John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a Taliban commander trained by al-Qaida. The Taliban and al-Qaida are teaming up and recruiting new terrorists to do us deadly harm, she reports.
She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”
Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.