Al Qaeda could begin to threaten the United States within one to two years, American intelligence officials have warned.
The estimated timeframe was given by Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, during an intelligence and national security summit on Tuesday.
“The current assessment probably conservatively is one to two years for al Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” Berrier said, according to the New York Times.
CIA deputy director David Cohen said the US had already detected “some of the indications of some potential movement of al Qaeda to Afghanistan.”
He added that it was difficult to give a timeline on when al Qaeda would “have the capability to go to strike” the US before being detected.
The warnings from the two intelligence officials follow similar cautions issued prior to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last month.
President Biden admitted over the weekend that al Qaeda may come back as he defended his decision to withdraw troops.
Intelligence experts have long warned that the Taliban still have ties to al Qaeda, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many fighters were still in Afghanistan at the time US troops withdrew.
Cohen did not specify whether any specific al Qaeda members had returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control last month.
Amin ul-Haq, a senior al Qaeda commander who was Osama bin Laden’s security chief, apparently returned to his hometown in Nangarhar province last month after two decades in Pakistan, according to videos posted to social media.
Videos circulating on Twitter appeared to show ul-Haq being driven through a Taliban checkpoint in a convoy of SUVs before shaking hands and posing for selfies with some men.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted Tuesday to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that the relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban “has not been severed.”
He added: “It’s a very open question as to whether their views and the relationship has changed in any kind of definitive way.”
With Post wires