Republican New York Rep. John Katko warned that terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, may once again rise to power due to the Taliban’s recent takeover of Afghanistan in a Fox News interview Tuesday.
The Taliban, a radical Islamist force that formerly ruled Afghanistan, regained their power in the country after the Sunday breaching of the nation’s capital, Kabul. Katko, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Afghanistan will return to “a pre-9/11 footing” which “makes a perfect environment for foreign fighters and terrorists to establish a foothold,” according to Fox News.
“That, in itself, puts us on a less safe footing here in the United States. Groups like Al-Qaeda now have the opportunity to grow again and metastasize,” Katko warned. “What we did not have pre-9/11, though, that we have now, is an absolute porous southern border. This is the beginning of what could be a very bad thing. You only need one or two to create mayhem here, which could happen because of our porous southern border.”
The New York Republican expressed concerns of terrorists having the ability to enter the U.S. through the southern border simultaneously as al-Qaida and other terrorist groups possibly rise to power under the Taliban’s rule, the outlet reported. Since January, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) arrested two men listed on the Terrorism Watchlist at the U.S.-Mexican border, NBC News reported in April.
.@RepJohnKatko: “Letting #Afghanistan fall into the hands of the Taliban is bad enough, but couple that with the open southern border, and it’s a real recipe for disaster. We have to keep our antenna up.” pic.twitter.com/qLkff1Rr1N
— House Homeland GOP (@HomelandGOP) August 17, 2021
The State Department’s 2019 terrorism report revealed that “there was no credible evidence indicating international terrorist groups established bases in Mexico, worked directly with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operative via Mexico into the United States.” However, the representative cited the CBP saying that there has been a recent “uptick” in terrorism across the southern border, according to Fox News.
In April, President Joe Biden vowed to withdraw troops in Afghanistan by Sept. 11 to put an end to the 20-year war. Katko blamed the president for the takeover in Afghanistan, saying that he reportedly did not listen to experts with regards to withdrawing troops from the country. (RELATED: ‘I’m Left With Some Grave Questions’: Obama-Era Afghanistan Ambassador Doubting If Biden Can Lead As Commander In Chief)
“This is a very dangerous situation, and what is most disturbing is that the president was just defiant as hell about his decision – it is clear he didn’t listen to his key military advisors – and he did not talk about the biggest implication of his decision which is an increased threat to the homeland,” he told Fox News.
In response to Afghanistan’s situation, the president gave a speech Monday where he said that the U.S. must “focus on the threats we face today in 2021, not yesterday’s threats.”
“His so-called ‘threat of yesterday’ has now become the threat of today,” Katko said in reference to the speech. “Basically, he is creating the world headquarters of terrorism. The threat, when you are allowing the world headquarters to be created for one of your threats of the past, it becomes a current threat. No doubt about it.”
“It is ironic that the president has created this, because this is the thing he was trying to prevent,” he continued, according to Fox News.
In the speech, Biden said that U.S. counterterrorism missions will, if needed, enter Afghanistan to combat threats of terrorism. The president also said that Afghan forces did not defend themselves when they had the ability to.