By Saagar Enjeti
Nearly one in five terrorist organizations in the world are based out of Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson told reporters Friday.
“This is the highest concentration of the numbers of different groups in any area in the world,” he elaborated.
Nicholson’s comments come as the Taliban now controls more ground than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2001. U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel estimated Thursday that the Taliban controls approximately 40 percent of the entire country.
“We have to be concerned about this — about the Taliban pulling together and cooperating and collaborating with other terrorist organizations,” Votel lamented.
The U.S invaded Afghanistan in 2001, after the Taliban government gave sanctuary to al-Qaida and refused to turn al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden over to U.S. authorities.
Western officials told The New York Times nearly 40,000 militants remain in Afghanistan. Officials believe 25 percent of these militants are foreign-born nationals, using Afghanistan as a safe haven to plot attacks and organize.
Taliban victories are multiplying as the U.S.-based Afghan Security Forces struggle to maintain security throughout the country, amid massive losses.
The Afghan Security Forces lost nearly 900 men in July alone, and are having their bloodiest year since the U.S. invasion in 2001. The high attrition rate of the Afghan forces, coupled with two major offensives across hundreds of miles will likely push the Afghan forces to their brink. Western officials reportedly believe they are now losing 30-50 men per day to Taliban attacks.
“The groups all have symbiotic relationships. One group cannot stay in isolation; others provide the enabling environment,” Afghanistan’s national security adviser told TheNYT. He continued, “There is no change in the goals that Al Qaeda is pursuing, which is the destruction of the West and Muslim democracies.”