Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Leon Panetta, who served under President Barack Obama, gave an ominous warning about the situation in Afghanistan during a televised interview to be aired Sunday.
“The Taliban taking over Afghanistan is pretty much the same Taliban that controlled Afghanistan on 9/11,” Panetta said during the taping of “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.” “It's clear to me that they're going to continue to support Al-Qaeda, and I think they will plan additional attacks on our country, as well as elsewhere.”
The Taliban controlled Afghanistan when Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States in New York City and Washington, D.C., when 20 radical Islamic terrorists hijacked and crashed passenger planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center as well as crashing a passenger plane into the Pentagon.
A fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers fought the hijackers off as they headed for another target, killing all on board.
Both towers in New York collapsed, killing more than 2,700 people including more than 300 police, firefighters and other first responders.
U.S. forces went into Afghanistan to find and kill Bin Laden, fighting the Taliban back and taking over the country.
Bin Laden was eventually found and killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011, and a U.S. backed government was set up in Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump initially negotiated a withdrawal from the country after 20 years based on the situation on the ground, but President Joe Biden extended the May deadline to Aug. 31, rapidly pulling the 2,500 troops in the country out.
In the final 10 days, the Taliban mounted a major offensive and reclaimed control of the country after taking the capital city of Kabul Aug. 14, causing a chaotic mass exodus of Americans, third country nationals, and Afghan refugees.
While more than 120,000 evacuated the country, several hundred Americans and thousands of others remain there with the Taliban in control.
Panetta said the initial mission, to get Bin Laden, succeeded, but he is concerned about the future under the Taliban.
“We were successful at making sure that the United States did not suffer another 9/11 attack,” he said. “We were able to go after bin Laden and get someone who was in charge of the attack on our country and send a message to the world that nobody attacks us and gets away with it.”
He said he is concerned that the Taliban will continue to allow terrorist organizations to have a “safe haven” in the country, where they could eventually mount another 9/11-style attack on the U.S.
“Those actions and the other actions that are being taken to shut down protests and really inhibit women's rights there, that this is a Taliban that will indeed continue to provide a safe haven for terrorists, and that spells trouble for the United States,” he said.
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