Al-Qaeda, the dreaded terrorist organisation once helmed by Osama bin Laden, is capable of orchestrating attacks inside the United States within one to two years after reconstituting itself in Afghanistan, two senior U.S. intelligence officials said.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defence Intelligence Agency, gave that estimated timeframe on Tuesday while speaking at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.
“The current assessment probably, conservatively, is one to two years for al-Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” Berrier said. “We’re thinking about ways to gain access back into Afghanistan with all kinds of sources and accesses. We are prioritizing that effort. We’ll continue to prioritize it. But we have to be careful to balance these very scarce resources," he added.
David Cohen, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said the U.S. already had detected "some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaeda to Afghanistan.
Experts have long said the Taliban still maintains ties to al-Qaeda, which took sanctuary in Afghanistan prior to 9/11.
Counterterrorism experts estimated prior to the withdrawal that al-Qaeda had several hundred fighters in Afghanistan.
(With AP inputs)