Before Sept. 11, 2001, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was a sanctuary for jihadist groups like al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization could operate there "with little interruption," Georgetown University professor and Brookings Institution fellow Daniel Byman writes in The Wall Street Journal. The Taliban's return to power has raised concerns about a repeat of the situation, which could potentially leave the U.S. vulnerable to another major attack, but Byman argues there are significant differences between now and then.
"Sustaining large-scale terrorist training camps in Afghanistan or elsewhere would be risky for the Taliban," Byman writes, explaining that Afghanistan is no longer the "black box" it was before 2001. Even without troops on the ground, the U.S. "can intercept terrorist communications, monitor activity from the skies, and try to work with disaffected Afghans." Plus, unlike the late 1990s, Washington's intelligence community will be more focused on the actions of groups like al Qaeda.
The Taliban, Byman notes, "paid a high price" for their role in the 9/11 attacks and it's possible the group won't want to risk facing U.S. airstrikes or economic pressure by aiding international terrorism. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.