Apr 15, 2021 - World

Jake Sullivan: U.S. will have "months of warning" of potential al-Qaeda attack on homeland

The U.S.' ability to prevent terrorist attacks "will change" but not diminish after the U.S. withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN Thursday.

Why it matters: Sullivan's interview comes after CIA director William Burns told a Senate panel Wednesday that withdrawal could allow terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS to rebuild, following President Biden's announcement Wednesday that the U.S. will begin the process of leaving the country in May.

  • Burns noted that those groups currently do not have the capacity to attack the U.S. homeland.
  • However, he said it is "simply a fact" that "the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish" once forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

What they're saying: "It is simply a fact that our ability to deal with the threat on the ground will change when there aren't U.S. forces and coalition forces there, but we believe our posture will remain at a level where we can suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan," Sullivan said.

  • "We will not have the same level of daily intelligence, but at a strategic level, in terms of being able to know whether or not al-Qaeda or ISIS is developing an external plotting capability, which they do not currently possess ... we will have months of warning."
  • "And we will have the assets and capabilities to deal with that threat as it arrises," he added.
  • "[O]ur ability to protect the American homeland, in my view, will not diminish."
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