Former Central Command chief warns of rising ISIS threat following botched Afghanistan withdrawal

Former CENTCOM commander says lack of U.S. presence allows terror group to grow unchecked.

Former CENTCOM chief warns of rising ISIS threat following botched Afghanistan withdrawal
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
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The former head of U.S. Central Command has warned that the threat from the Islamic State to the American homeland is becoming more serious due to President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

In an interview on ABC's "This Week" program, retired Gen. Frank McKenzie said the lack of U.S. military pressure on ISIS in Afghanistan means the terrorist group can freely "gain strength" and plan attacks abroad with greater ease.

"Unfortunately, we no longer place that pressure on them, so they're free to gain strength, they're free to plan, they're free to coordinate and to outreach that hit us in our homelands," McKenzie told host Martha Raddatz. "So, you might as well be playing an away game than a home game. We've chosen to play a home game."

McKenzie, who oversaw the complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 before retiring, was responding to warnings from his successor, Gen. Michael Kurilla, about ISIS's capability to strike Western targets with little notice.

The general said that if Biden had kept the recommended residual force of 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, partnered with NATO allies, it could have prevented an ISIS resurgence by maintaining counterterrorism pressure.

“Laving 2,500 troops, along with our NATO partners, who would have left 4,000 or 5,000 troops, we would have been able to continue to work against ISIS, which was the principal reason we’re in Afghanistan, to prevent attacks in our homeland,” he said. “I think we might be in a different place now. I think we might actually be safer than we are.”

With no U.S. military presence remaining in Afghanistan, McKenzie expressed concern about the lack of visibility and ability to conduct strikes against ISIS militants freely operating there. He said the terror group "has a strong desire to attack" America.

"I think the threat is growing," McKenzie warned. "It began to grow as soon as we left Afghanistan, took pressure off ISIS. So I think we should expect further attempts of this nature against the United States."


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