The U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan Has Emboldened Islamist Radicalism across the Globe

August 26, 2022 | Jonathan Schanzer
About the author: Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the United States Department of the Treasury, is senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is author of the new book Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War (FDD Press). Follow him on Twitter @JSchanzer.

A year ago today, amid the shambolic American retreat from Afghanistan, a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport killed 170 people, thirteen of whom were members of the U.S. military. Soon thereafter, the Taliban gained control of Kabul, and reimposed its rule on most of the country. This, writes Jonathan Schanzer, is but one example of how the American withdrawal encouraged jihadists—both near and far:

Afghanistan is once again a safe haven for al-Qaeda, as evidenced by the American operation that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the group’s commander. Just after the withdrawal last year, the Middle East was rocked by yet another Gaza war, with Hamas showering more than 4,500 rockets on Israel. Earlier this month, the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad picked another fight with Israel, raining down another 1,000 rockets on the Jewish state.

Islamic State may be weakened in Syria and Iraq, but a faction in Congo is active. The jihadist group has conducted two prison raids in the last year.

Elsewhere in Africa, the al-Qaeda affiliate group al-Shabaab attempted an incursion into Ethiopia. The group remains active in Somalia. Here at home, Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage last week as he prepared to deliver a lecture.

Jihadists have become emboldened by America’s ignominious defeat in Afghanistan. And they appear to be mounting a global offensive. Just like they did back in 1989.

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