President Biden has vowed to mitigate threats to the United States emanating from Afghanistan through our so-called over the horizon counterterrorism capability. In the context of our retreat and surrender, this vow comes off with a Monty Python quality lacking the humor of the original.
What’s going on under the horizon as we depart? This week Politico’s Lara Seligman et al. reported that “U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate.” Subhead: “The White House contends that limited information sharing with the Taliban is saving lives; critics argue it’s putting Afghan allies in harm’s way.”
Zenger News has just posted Siddharthya Roy and Richard Miniter’s story “First-Ever Interview With Terror Leader Who’s Hunting Americans and Allies in Afghanistan.” Subhead: “In a rare interview, a Taliban commander confirms the existence of a special unit called Al Isha using U.S. data to hunt enemies.” They report:
The Taliban has mobilized a special unit, called Al Isha, to hunt down Afghans who helped U.S. and allied forces — and it’s using U.S. equipment and data to do it.
Nawazuddin Haqqani, one of the brigade commanders over the Al Isha unit, bragged in an interview with Zenger News, that his unit is using U.S.-made hand-held scanners to tap into a massive U.S.-built biometric database and positively identify any person who helped the NATO allies or worked with Indian intelligence. Afghans who try to deny or minimize their role will find themselves contradicted by the detailed computer records that the U.S. left behind in its frenzied withdrawal.
The existence of the Al Isha unit has not been previously confirmed by the Taliban; until now the Haqqani Network, a terror group aligned with the Taliban, has not admitted its role in targeting Afghans or its use of America’s vast biometric database. The Haqqani Network is “the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting U.S., Coalition, and Afghan forces,” according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.
The power and reach of the U.S. biometric database are breathtaking. Virtually everyone who worked with the Afghan government or the U.S. military, including interpreters, drivers, nurses, and secretaries, was fingerprinted and scanned for the biometric database over the past 12 years.
U.S. officials have not confirmed how many of the 7,000 hand-held scanners were left behind or whether the biometric database could be remotely deleted.
Maybe their attention is turned elsewhere. However, this is not encouraging:
The U.S. State and Defense departments acknowledged receipt of questions from Zenger for this story on Tuesday. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said he would forward them to “the right folks” but did not provide answers by press time. State department press officer Nicole Thompson said the questions were “being worked” inside the agency but also didn’t provide a response. White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Zenger asked all three agencies for comment again Friday morning; none of them answered questions on the record.
I guess we shall see, but one would have to be optimistic to think there isn’t more to come, and worse.