KABUL - Al-Qaida, even without Osama bin Laden, has "tremendous recruitment potential," the national security adviser to President Hamid Karzai warns. Rangin Spanta cautioned against any effort to speed up the pullout of U.S. troops in the wake of the May 2 killing of bin Laden by a U.S. SEALs team during a raid on his compound deep inside Pakistan, The New York Times reported.
Spanta said he can understand the sentiment in Washington that eliminating bin Laden was one of the initial objectives of U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan, from where the al-Qaida leader masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.
"I can understand that but at the same time my warning would be to be very careful," Spanta said.
"Al-Qaida is not only bin Laden. It's a very dangerous policy to think so. Of course, bin Laden was a charismatic leader for al-Qaida, a symbol for them who is gone now. But the network he headed is alive and active and it has a tremendous recruitment potential in this region."
A recent strategic partnership agreement draft presented by the Afghans seeks permanent U.S. military bases without specifically calling them such. A U.S. reply to the Afghan draft is expected later this month. (UPI)