American soldiers and others taken out by a bombing….
Far from home…
Not from the Taliban….
But from an old foe…..
The goal for the US and Western Intelligence communities and Military will be to keep the groups from exporting terrorism out of the Middle East….
And THAT will mean the American and the countries military presence in Afghanistan is NOT gonna just disappear….
Like a black hole with its own gravitational pull, Afghanistan could draw the C.I.A. back into a complex counterterrorism mission for years to come.
American officials are reworking plans to counter threats that could emerge from Afghanistan’s chaos, according to current and former officials: negotiating for new bases in Central Asian countries; determining how clandestine officers can run sources in the country without the military and diplomatic outposts that provided cover to spies for two decades; and figuring out from where the C.I.A. could launch drone strikes and other Afghanistan operations.
Thursday’s attacks at the Kabul airport, which killed more than a dozen U.S. service members and scores of Afghan civilians, were evidence that terrorist groups are already working to sow further chaos in the country and could hope to use it as a base for attacks outside Afghanistan.
Hours later, President Biden pledged to hunt down those responsible for the bombings. “We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and at the moment of our choosing,” he said.
The United States and its allies want to keep Afghanistan from devolving into a terrorist haven akin to Syria a decade ago and Afghanistan before Sept. 11, when the chaos of war lured a hodgepodge of terrorists and new extremist groups were born. The most urgent threat in Afghanistan is the local Islamic State group, American officials said. Leaders of Al Qaeda may also try to return to the country. And while the Taliban may not want either group in Afghanistan, they may be incapable of keeping them out, current and former American officials said.
“It’s going to get a lot harder,” said Don Hepburn, a former senior C.I.A. officer who served in Afghanistan. “The agency is being drawn in many, many directions.”….
The agency expects its mission ahead in Afghanistan will be “more focused” on tracking the development of terrorist groups determined to attack the United States, the senior U.S. intelligence official said.
The American covert operation in Afghanistan could be carried out by either C.I.A. operatives or Special Operations military troops acting under “Title 50” authority — similar to when Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on a mission run by the spy agency. Such episodes of putting the military under C.I.A. authority became more common in the post-9/11 era as the lines blurred between soldiers and spies.