‘Significant risk’ terrorist groups will seek to rebuild: CIA director

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said Wednesday there is a “significant risk” that terrorist groups will seek to rebuild after U.S. troops withdraw and that not having troops in Afghanistan would diminish the agency’s ability to gather intelligence in the country.

Addressing a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Burns said: “Our ability to keep that thread in Afghanistan in check, from either al-Qaeda or ISIS in Afghanistan, has benefited greatly from the presence of US and coalition militaries on the ground and in the air fueled by intelligence provided by the CIA and our other intelligence partners.

“When the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact,” Burns said.

“So all of that, to be honest, means that there is a significant risk once the US military and the coalition militaries withdraw.”

US President Joe Biden is expected to officially announce Wednesday that American troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11.

Burns said that while military groups “remain intent on recovering the ability to attack U.S. targets…after years of sustained counterterrorism pressure, the reality is that neither of them have that capacity today.”

CIA Burns told lawmakers there is a “significant risk” that terrorist groups in Afghanistan will seek to rebuild after U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan later this year.