The Afghanistan terror threat is a clear and present danger, security experts tell the Mirror tonight, with the return of the Taliban meaning the uk Al-Qaeda could use lawless state as a base for attacks on targets in West
Britain is now facing the threat of a terror attack on the same horrifying scale as the 9-11 assault on the US in 2001, intelligence and security experts fear.
The leader of the resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan has warned his country will become the “ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism”.
Sandhurst-educated Ahmad Masood, commander of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, said: “The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone.
“Plots against democracies will be hatched here once again.”
From his mountain hideout north of Kabul, he said his fighters desperately needed support from the West.
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He said: “There is still much you can do to aid the cause of freedom – you are our only remaining hope.”
Counter terror officers have feared a Taliban takeover for months, knowing it would give al-Qaeda back the “ungoverned spaces” in the deserts and mountains, the terror training grounds where Osama bin Laden plotted his 9-11 attacks.
Taliban rule will also allow Islamic State’s regional faction ISK to thrive.
Chilling warnings have come from military chiefs, an ex-MI5 boss, intelligence experts and security officials, who fear the UK will face atrocities like the 2013 murder of soldier Lee Rigby, killed by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.
Former MI5 boss Lord Jonathan Evans said yesterday: “If they get the opportunity to put down infrastructure to train and to operate then that will pose a threat to the West.
“There’s also the psychological effect of the inspiration that some people will draw from the failure of Western power in Afghanistan. In practical terms and in terms of ungoverned space, but also in psychological terms, it probably means an increase in threat over the coming months and years.”
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told the Mirror: “There is the possibility of a 9-11 style spectacular, on government buildings, sports grounds, major targets.”
He said: “If they cannot get the US, the UK remains a large target. Freedom in Afghanistan, as we have seen with 9-11, will give them time and help to plan such an attack.”
He said there was also the risk of an attack by UK jihadists who trained in Afghanistan in how to launch an attack on their return.
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But he also warned: “We face the danger of an attack right now from jihadists already here who are inspired by what they have witnessed of the Taliban victory in Afghanistan.
“This is happening right now – radicalised people are seeing this story unfold and being inspired by it. They are celebrating the rise of al-Qaeda once again and the threat from these people is immediate.”
Col Kemp believes the bond between the Taliban and al-Qaeda may have strengthened in the past 20 years.
AFP via Getty Images)
He said: “They have been close comrades for some time and have similar doctrines, religious beliefs.
“They have campaigned and fought together for two decades and their links may be even greater than before.
“This could very well mean a far greater threat from al-Qaeda Mark II, a bigger danger to British citizens.”
One expert said “There is a long-term and spectacular threat to the UK of another 9-11.
“Would be jihadists who are inspired by what has happened may wish to harm British citizens right now – and it would be because of what has happened in Afghanistan.”
Thousands of terrorists and other hardened criminals have been freed from Afghanistan’s jails by the Taliban, many of them foreign fighters desperate to rejoin their jihadi comrades.
It is feared billions of pounds of military hardware has fallen into Taliban hands and could be used in al-Qaeda training camps and attacks. The Taliban victory may inspire UK jihadists who failed to reach Syria and Iraq, dubbed “frustrated travellers”, to fight.
AFP via Getty Images)
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Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was allowed to stay in Afghanistan by the Taliban as their guests in jihad, even though the Afghan group had never had an interest in global jihad.
After the Taliban were ousted, the UK and Europe suffered waves of terror attacks but nothing as serious as 9-11 as it was believed keeping al-Qaeda and ISIS on the move stopped their planning.
The US-led coalition was bogged down in a 20-year war in Afghanistan against a constant stream of jihadists, which killed thousands of US troops and 457 Brits.
The US withdrawal means the UK faces an even bigger terrorism threat. Colonel Kemp said: “We could face a worse terror threat than even at the height of the ISIS campaign as they are emboldened.”
Dr Lily Hamourtziadou, Security Studies lecturer at Birmingham City University, said: “The UK government’s possible response is now limited to tightening security at home and remote warfare using drones, if UK interests are threatened.
“The conflict in Afghanistan never ended, but this new development plunges the country into further depths of oppression, violence and human rights abuses.
“As civilians try to flee, another humanitarian crisis spills over the border to the region and rest of the world.”