Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, McKenzie said that while the Taliban has been “less firm” when it comes to opposing al Qaeda, they have demonstrated a commitment to taking on Daesh (also knows as ISIL or ISIS), even if it is not enough.
“The Taliban is attempting to maintain pressure on ISIS. They’re finding it difficult fo do so,” McKenzie noted in response to a question from Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.
McKenzie added that in recent months ISIS has carried out “some high-profile attacks” in Afghanistan, including in the capital city of Kabul.
This, he said, was even before the time of year when such attacks are typically on the rise. “We’re coming out of the winter; traditionally this would now begin the fighting season,” McKenzie said.
“It is my expectation that ISIS attacks will ramp up in Afghanistan as we go into the summer,” he added.
McKenzie was not confident at all that the Taliban would stop al Qaeda from being active, saying he believes that “they’re much less firm on the al Qaeda issue as far as opposing them and being able to limit them.”
The Taliban infamously harbored al Qaeda and its former leader Usama bin Laden prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. After a 20-year war that saw them temporarily toppled from power, the Taliban swiftly retook control of Afghanistan in 2021 as American forces withdrew. During the US withdrawal, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bombing at an airport in Kabul. Casualties included 13 US service members.