Al-Qaeda continues to pose threat to US: Miller

Gen. Austin Scott Miller, former NATO and U.S. forces commander in Afghanistan, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee that al-Qaeda continues to “pose a threat” to the United States.

“I think as long as al-Qaeda is out there with an idea and some operatives, there is some threat to, if not the homeland, to U.S. interests,” Miller said during the interview.

In his discussion with committee chairman Michael McCaul, Miller detailed the final months of U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the Doha agreement, the withdrawal, and other key events.

Miller emphasized that his primary concern during the Doha negotiations was to ensure continued support for the Afghans.

“What we were most concerned about as a military component of this agreement is we didn’t want to leave the Afghans, we didn’t want to create a deal that left the Afghans without support and allowed the Taliban to continue to attack without any support from us,” he stated.

According to Miller, the Taliban demanded the complete removal of American military presence in Afghanistan, including contractors and anyone supporting counterterrorism operations.

In 2021, Miller assessed that the Taliban were aiming for a military takeover of Afghanistan. “In ’21, I assessed they were going for a takeover, just by their actions on the ground,” he testified.

Miller noted that after the Doha Agreement was signed, the Taliban altered their approach to violence, intensifying attacks on Afghan checkpoints to increase casualties.

Discussing the Biden administration’s early 2021 proposal for a power-sharing “Peace Government” between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Miller confirmed that the Taliban viewed the Afghan government as “illegitimate” and were unlikely to accept any power-sharing arrangement.

He also testified that President Biden’s announcement of the U.S. military withdrawal on April 14, 2021, dramatically shifted the dynamics, removing the Taliban’s incentive to negotiate. “Why even talk to this group of Afghans that are here talking about a power-sharing agreement? We have what we want here now. We don’t need a power-sharing agreement,” he recounted the Taliban’s mindset.

Throughout 2021, the Taliban maintained established ties with terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Miller added.

Miller, who commanded NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan from September 2018 to July 2021, is a retired four-star general and former Delta Force commander. He was the longest-serving commander of the war in Afghanistan, holding the position for nearly three years.

Appearing before the committee, Miller underscored the significance of the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, drawing parallels with his experiences in Mogadishu. “And it’s bigger, you’re right. And nothing happens in isolation. But some events happen that are so big that we end up – 3-4 October, there were a lot of things led to that in 1993. But there’s a movie about 3-4 October, you know, not the five or six things that preceded it,” he said, highlighting the broader implications of specific historical events.