The US has been conducting an increasing number of Special Ops raids in northeastern Afghanistan to deal with threats that haven’t been seen in years: al-Qaeda training bases. Over the past six to eight months, al-Qaeda has been trickling back into Afghanistan from Pakistan, setting up camp in the remote areas along the border that coalition forces abandoned more than a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports.
At the time, commanders believed their presence there was driving Taliban recruitment, and that withdrawing would pull the Taliban elsewhere. Instead, the Taliban stayed, and “al-Qaeda is coming back,” one military officer says. It’s a major shift from six months ago, when officials estimated that al-Qaeda had only a couple dozen fighters in Afghanistan. Now, it seems reports of fraying Taliban/al-Qaeda relations were false, and that the surge has been unsuccessful in its goal of driving the groups apart further.