Al Qaeda pledges 'war on all fronts' as US pulls out from Afghanistan
Al-Qaeda militants have vowed a 'war on all fronts' against the United States, as President Joe Biden pulls out of Afghanistan and the extremist group marks 10 years since the assassination of its leader, Osama Bin Laden.
In a rare interview, two members of the militant group behind the 9/11 attacks pledged to continue fighting.
Speaking to American broadcaster CNN, the militants said that the "war against the US will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world."
CNN did not name the operatives, affiliated to al-Qaeda's subcontinent broadcast branch, but said that their answers had been reviewed by terrorism analysts.
Biden has pledged to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, which marks the 20th anniversary since al-Qaeda attacked New York’s World Trade Centre, killing almost 3,000 people.
The move signals the administration’s willingness to end 'America's longest war' in Afghanistan, which has spanned the administrations of four presidents.
Speaking to CNN, the al-Qaeda members praised Afghanistan’s rebel Taliban group for keeping the fight against America alive.
"Thanks to Afghans for the protection of comrades-in-arms, many such jihadi fronts have been successfully operating in different parts of the Islamic world for a long time,” the operatives said.
The withdrawal formally began on Saturday. US officials on the ground say the withdrawal is already a work in progress, but Washington made a point of remarking the date due to a deadline of May 1 agreed upon with the Taliban during negotiations led by the Trump administration.
As part of that agreement, the Taliban halted attacks on US troops, and no casualties have been reported since then. The Taliban said it would consider the US in violation of the agreement should they miss the deadline for a full withdrawal.
Some observers fear that bringing the war to an end will herald an uncertain future for Afghanistan, whose democratic institutions are still under threat by the Taliban.
The Pentagon is preparing for possible Taliban attacks on US and coalition forces as they withdraw. The prospect complicates the outlook for winding down America's involvement in the country.
According to the US administration, 2,500 to 3,500 American troops remain on the ground, along with about 7,000 coalition troops and thousands of contractors.