- Remarks come a day before anniversary of 9/11 attack.
- US was in Afghanistan to prevent attack on homelands.
- Ex-general opens up about Kabul airport attack in 2021.
The US cannot trust the Afghan Taliban, Marine Corps General (retd) Frank McKenzie who oversaw the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 has said.
The US marine who headed the US Central Command from 2019 to 2022, further added that he believed the Afghan Taliban would act only in their own interests and they could not be trusted.
“They actually have a long-term familial and customary relationship with al-Qaeda … I think that relationship is far stronger than any potential relationship they choose with the United States,” McKenzie said.
His remarks came during an interview with CBS News on September 10 — a day before the anniversary of the 9/11 attack that shocked the world and launched one of the biggest US off-shore campaigns in the form of “War on Terror”.
During the interview, the retired commander said that one of the reasons that the US was in Afghanistan was “to prevent the use of that country as a base from which to gather strength and either to direct or inspire attacks on our homelands, or the homelands of our allies.”
He further said: “As a result of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is now far more difficult for us to pursue those objectives.”
Since his retirement, McKenzie has made no secret of the fact that he opposed both President Biden and President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.
He had also advised that 25,000 US troops be left behind in Afghanistan to ensure US presence in the region. US President Biden, however, denied receiving any such advice.
Commenting on the attack on Kabul airport on August 26, 2021, that killed 13 US soldiers and over 150 Afghan civilians as the Americans worked to withdraw from the country, the former US Central Command head said “there were a lot of threats being worked all the time”.
“As the days wound up to the 26th of August … we were looking at four significant threats.
“We were looking at a vehicle borne IED attack, a car with a bomb in it … we were looking at a suicide vest attack of the type that actually occurred on the 26th [and] we were looking at indirect fire rockets or mortars directed against the airfield.
“And then we were looking at the possibility of an insider attack, somebody who got past our checkpoints and — with a bomb and was able to set it off either in the crowded terminal area or an airplane,” Mckinzie said.
Although McKenzie had admitted that the “strike was a tragic mistake”, the Pentagon decided in December 2021 that no military personnel would be punished for the attack.