Rep. Mike Waltz on Afghanistan: ‘We are going to see Al Qaeda 3.0’

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Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) slammed President Joe Biden’s defense of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and warned that Al Qaeda would make a resurgence during a Monday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“I think at the end of the day you have two choices in Afghanistan, you have a small presence focused on counterterrorism and supporting the Afghan military, or you face what we’re facing now, which will be a cesspool of terrorism,” said Waltz, who served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan as a Green Beret. 

“The problem is terrorism that happens in Afghanistan doesn’t stay in Afghanistan. We will see Al Qaeda 3.0, they are working closely with the Taliban, and they do intend to attack America again.” 

Since President Joe Biden’s April decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan before Sept. 11, the Taliban have made stunning battlefield advances and seized the presidential palace in the Afghan capital of Kabul over the weekend. The Taliban now have the entirety of the nation of 38 million people under their control.

Retired Lieutenant General Douglas Lute served in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations focusing on Afghanistan, and said that the Al Qaeda terror networks were, in fact, destroyed on “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“It was ten years ago that we brought Bin Laden to justice and that Al Qaeda, the original cause of our being in Afghanistan, the network of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been decimated over our time there, so, those vital [U.S.] national interests have certainly been served,” said Lute.  

During a Monday address to the nation, Biden also said that the U.S. achieved its goal of “severely degrading” Al Qaeda.

Waltz said that American credibility has been “seriously damaged” due to the withdrawal from Afghanistan and that it will impede the fight against terror.

“Around Afghanistan, not a single country, not one, has agreed to host American forces, so that we could stay on top of Al Qaeda,” Waltz said. “We are blind in the region, no one is going to trust us, and we have no basis for which to get after half the world’s terrorist organizations that exist in that part of the world.” 

Lute, however, said that currently, it’s “unimaginable” to envision a world where the U.S. is forced to go back to Afghanistan. 

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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