White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby was confronted Tuesday by Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy over the revelation that Al Qaeda has resestablished itself in Afghanistan following the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from the country, handing it back to Taliban extremists.
Doocy first raised the issue of the administration claiming they knew Al Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan despite Joe Biden’s claim last year that the terrorist organisation was “gone” from the country.
Kirby responded, “They weren’t playing a major role in operations or resourcing or planning in Afghanistan. But Peter, I know specifically because I was at a different podium a year ago and we talked about the fact that al-Qaida had a presence in Afghanistan, but small and not incredibly powerful or potent. And, I think, again without getting into numbers, we would still assess that to be the case.”
Doocy fired back, “So, we know that the Taliban was harboring the world’s most wanted terrorist. You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI Most Wanted List, what did you think was going to happen?”
Kirby responded, “I take issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups.”
“They were harboring the world’s number one terrorist, how is that not giving a country to a terrorist-sympathizing group, if not giving them permission to have terrorists just sit on a balcony?” Doocy replied, referring to the revelation that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was reportedly killed by drone strike while relaxing in Kabul.
“Are we waiting for some spectacular terrorist attack in the U.S. to then say ‘oh, well there’s terrorists in a safe haven in Afghanistan, now we can go get them,’” Doocy further pressed.
In an interview the same day, Kirby admitted that Al Qaeda is now using Afghanistan as a “safe haven” again: