So… Al Qaeda Is Back In Afghanistan Already? Biden Spox John Kirby Faces Rapid Fire Questions

White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I, along with many veterans and Americans, celebrated the death of al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 plotter Ayman al-Zawahiri this week. I can remember the moment I saw the Twin Towers get hit on 9/11.

My young adult life was very much built around my military service in and around Afghanistan, so to have the former #2 of al-Qaeda off this blue marble is welcome news.

However, the strike brings up uncomfortable questions for the Biden administration over some comments the President made a year ago when trying to explain the haphazard withdrawal of Afghanistan. Luckily for us, Fox News’ Peter Doocy made sure to hammer National Security Council spokesman John Kirby with these uncomfortable realizations.

The exchange between the two gentlemen also made me wonder if Mr. Doocy was happy to have someone up to the task at the podium and if the White House is second-guessing who they have filling the Press Secretary position. Say what you will about Mr. Kirby; he’s more adept at fielding the tough questions than Karine Jean-Pierre.

Al-Qaeda Back, or Perhaps They Never Left

Mr. Doocy wasted no time questioning Mr. Kirby on the accuracy of President Biden’s comments from a year ago:

“You’re saying that you’ve always known there was a small number of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. President Biden said, ‘What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al-Qaeda gone?'”

Typically quite eloquent and concise in answering tough questions, Mr. Kirby responded with the following:

“Yeah, I mean, in a major way al-Qaeda was not…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-Qaeda had a presence in Afghanistan, but it’s small, and not incredibly powerful or potent.”

So essentially, what I can gather from that is the President, as usual, said one thing when the reality was another. Although to be fair to Mr. Kirby, a year ago, he did issue a correction to the President’s statements regarding al-Qaeda, stating:

“We know that al-Qaeda is a presence, as well as ISIS, in Afghanistan, and we’ve talked about that for quite some time.”

Unfortunately, it appears the President wasn’t a part of those conversations. 

RELATED: As the Anniversary of the Afghanistan Withdrawal Approaches, Those in the Biden Administration Brace for Impact

Really Great Questions

According to the government, Zawahiri was taken out on a balcony in downtown Kabul. He had been reportedly casually staying at the house with his family. Other than “al-Qaeda had left Afghanistan,” a laughable statement in and of itself a year ago, the next concerning matter is if the Taliban knowingly were harboring this man.

Mr. Doocy gets to this issue in his questioning:

“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 gonna happen?”

A fair question that Mr. Kirby took issue with arguing the validity that it was our country to give away or not. What I found most interesting in Mr. Kirby’s response was this:

“I don’t want to re-litigate the whole war here, but obviously no one anticipated the Ghani government to fall as fast as it did.”

Shouldn’t it be alarming that no one anticipated what would happen? I’m pretty confident there is a process to investigate and review why we were so inept at that assessment… yet I don’t recall that anything has been released to the public yet. 

Color me not surprised.

Mr. Doocy goes on to ask yet another great question regarding the Taliban’s lack of living:

“…up to the part of the deal they made with the US to not let Afghanistan be a place that terrorists feel like they can be safe, what are you going to do about it?”

I am still waiting on that answer. Although, if you believe the Taliban, they didn’t break any deal.

RELATED: Biden State Dept. Refusing To Cooperate With Afghanistan Inspector General Review

If You Believe This, I Have a Bridge for Sale…

No surprise here; the Taliban is sticking to the claim that they had no idea Zawahiri was staying in Kabul. A house with ties to the deputy leader of the Taliban, by the way. 

Nobody is buying that, at least I hope not. Instead, the Taliban is going even further, claiming that the strike the U.S. took against Zawahiri was a “clear violation of…the Doha agreement.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken bit back, stating:

“The Taliban grossly violated the Doha agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.”

Quite right, Secretary Blinken, so what are we going to do about it? 

Maybe we don’t need to worry about it; after all, the Taliban released a statement yesterday:

“There is no danger from the territory of Afghanistan to any country, including America.”

My mind is at ease already.

I Don’t Need to Imagine

Bruce Hoffman of the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on counter-terrorism said Zawahiri was “given VIP treatment” and:

“One can only imagine the kind of treatment that other al-Qaeda officials and fighters are getting.”

I don’t need to imagine. A year ago, when we pulled chocks and withdrew, over three dozen al-Qaeda senior leaders were released from a jail my husband at one point guarded. 

Who released them? The Taliban. 

Members close to al-Qaeda currently fill critical positions in the Taliban government, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, who runs the Taliban’s interior ministry. Al-Qaeda is alive and well in the Afghan region, and it’s only a matter of time before they start up training camps and plot their next move if they haven’t already.

This is how the world turns, and it appears it will continue to turn, unfortunately. Let’s hope these ‘over the horizon’ strikes continue to be effective for the sake of the next generation of Americans. 

I’d hate to have my kids fighting the same endless war their parents fought.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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