Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is attempting a comeback
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A diminished but resilient Al-Qaeda, whose Sept 11, 2001, attacks drew America into its longest war, is attempting a comeback in Afghanistan's mountainous east even as United States (US) and allied forces wind down their combat mission and concede a small but steady toehold to the terrorist group.
That concerns US commanders, who have intensified strikes against Al-Qaeda cells in recent months. It also undercuts an Obama administration narrative portraying Al-Qaeda as battered to the point of being a non-issue in Afghanistan as Western troops start leaving.
When he visited Afghanistan in May to mark the one-year anniversary of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama said his administration had turned the tide of war. "The goal that I set - to defeat Al-Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild - is within reach," he said.
As things stand, however, an unquestionably weakened Al-Qaeda appears to have preserved at least limited means of regenerating inside Afghanistan as US influence in the country wanes. The last US combat troops are scheduled to be gone by Dec 31, 2014, with security matters turned over to the Afghan government.