U.S. Braces for Return of Terrorist Safe Havens to Afghanistan by Helene Cooper – New York Times
For 17 years, three successive presidents have told the American public that above all else, Afghanistan must never again provide “safe haven” to terrorist groups seeking to harm the United States and its interests.
But Defense Department and intelligence officials now say exactly that may be on the verge of happening.
With the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in its twilight, American officials are tracking foreign fighters veering to provinces in Afghanistan’s north and east. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda remains a persistent and deadly threat across the country, a senior American general told senators last week.
And a report published in November by the Institute for the Study of War flatly stated that Afghanistan is “a safe haven for terrorist plots against the U.S. homeland.”
Afghan officials believe there are now an estimated 3,000 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan. Last week, the Islamic State in Khorasan released a video promoting Jowzjan Province in Afghanistan’s north and Nangarhar Province in the east as the next spot for Islamic extremists to establish a caliphate now that the group has been routed from its de facto capital in Syria…