Dan Hoffman: Our Afghanistan withdrawal is complete. Here’s what the terror fight looks like now

Now you can listen to Fox News articles! The Chief of al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction program was Abu Khabab al Masri. Al Qaeda’s senior operatives were Abu Faraj al Libi and Abu Muhsin al Masri. These terrorists’ names are probably not familiar to most readers. Their demise, or in the case of al-Libi, his capture, resulted from the U.S. government’s full-throttled targeting of al Qaeda following the 9/11 attacks. They are only a few of the many al Qaeda terrorists taken off the battlefield to keep our nation safe. A few years back, my CIA colleagues found and fixed the location of a senior al Qaeda terrorist, well known for planning attacks against the West. Our foreign military partners planned a capture operation based on the CIA’s intelligence, but the al Qaeda operative exited his compound, firing his weapon, and was killed in the crossfire.


When I returned home for leave from my post as a station chief in South Asia a few months after this counterterrorism operation, my family and friends and my work colleagues asked me about my overseas tour. I mentioned the name of this recently deceased al Qaeda operative, whose death had been noted in the media,  though not extensively. No one, except my father, who was tracking everything he could about my war zone assignment, knew about this counterterrorism success. My friends at work who were wesponsible for activities in China and Russia were likewise unaware.

terror fight


I held an all-hands meeting with our team when I returned to pthe ost. I could see the forlorn expressions on my colleagues’ faces as I explained how no one was tracking or seemed to care much about our latest counterterrorism operation. I told them that I had felt the same way at first, but during my return flight, I had an epiphany. The fact that our colleagues and citizens were focused on other things was the greatest compliment we could ever hope to receive. They trusted us to fulfill our sacred mission of keeping them safe by detecting and preempting threats.


These terrorist threats were not keeping our nation up at night with worry. Instead, our citizens were going about their daily lives blissfully unaware of a team of the intelligence community, military, and diplomatic patriots taking the fight to the enemy, often in harm’s way. On September 1, 2021, the U.S. will have no embassy military troops in Afghanistan. But the intelligence community’s essential mission will remain the same.

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The Taliban, ISIS, and AQ are still at war with our nation. Pakistan might be allied with the Afghan Taliban, but AQ and the Pakistani Taliban are ruthlessly focused on targeting Pakistan’s nuclear program and civilian population. The CIA will carry on with the recruiting of spies and the stealing of secrets within this terrorist mosaic but with a new far risker and more dangerous operational paradigm thath no longer benefits from U.S. military bases and an official embassy in Kabul.

The Biden administration has been characterizing their new counterterrorism strategy as “over the horizon,” an otherwise pleasant sounding phrase, but one which obfuscates Afghanistan’s transformation into a terrorist state and the simultaneous degradation of our find, fix, and finishes counterterrorism capability. Human sources are key to tracking threats in Afghanistan, known for its unforgiving mountainous terrain where our enemies find sanctuary to plot and plan against us.

We can forget the debate about the false choice between continuing an “endless war” and withdrawing altogether, even if there was a level of comfort with having the smallest force necessary to detect and preempt threats “over there,” as Charles Krauthammer used to say so that we were protected “over here.”

One of my CIA mentors was fond of saying,g “The secret of our success is the secret of our success.” But that just won’t be good enough anymore. Our citizens might want to acquaint themselves with the rogue’s gallery of terrorists we eliminated in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region during the past 20 years and ask their elected representatives to hold the Biden administration accountable for a real plan to carry on this sacred mission in defense of our nation.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!