The U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan will likely lead to civil war and the resurgence of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley in an interview.
“My military estimate is … that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” Milley told Fox News during an interview at Ramstein airbase in Germany.
“I don’t know if the Taliban is going to [be] able to consolidate power and establish governance.”
“I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war and that will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups,” Milley told the network.
In late August, Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and President Joe Biden received flack for not anticipating the Taliban—itself a designated terrorist group by several federal agencies—taking over the country in just 11 days.
They later defended the pullout, saying that the rushed and chaotic evacuation of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans was built into their contingency planning.
When the Taliban captured areas in Afghanistan, the group also opened prisons while Pentagon officials later confirmed that thousands of ISIS-K terrorists may have been released from those facilities, including one at Bagram airbase.
During the final phase of the evacuation in the Kabul airport, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack that left 13 U.S. service members dead.
“You could see a resurgence of terrorism coming out of that general region within 12, 24, 36 months. And we’re going to monitor that,” Milley added in the interview, published Saturday.
As a result, he said, the United States will have to “re-establish some human intelligence networks” and will have to “conduct strike operations if there’s a threat to the United States.”