Last week, SOFREP shared a video from Afghanistan allegedly showing Taliban fighters capture and execute a contingent of Afghan Army Commandos who had just surrendered. As this video was making its way across the internet, one of the first questions that arose, was “is it real?” This question now seems to have been adequately answered and the video’s authenticity validated. So, the next, biggest question is obvious: what does this mean for Afghanistan?

The Talibans’ End Game

The Taliban are poised to take it all in Afghanistan. In the last couple of months since we shared this story, the situation has become even more critical. Recent events continue to support our prior analysis. The Taliban now control over two-thirds of all the districts in Afghanistan and have made major gains in the last several months. They have more than doubled their territory since April.

The Taliban are clearly winning. This is not just a traditional Afghan spring-summer offensive; it is a fully-fledged campaign to take back the country. If that idea also seems new to anyone, they have not been paying attention… for about 15 years since the Taliban started making gains in 2006. There has been an ebb and flow of Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other extremist factions in Afghanistan since then. And now, it’s a tsunami.

And yes: al-Qaeda is still fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. Other foreign Islamic extremists have also joined the mix.

Could Afghanistan Again Become a Haven for Islamic Extremists?

I have, on a number of occasions during my time in Afghanistan, fought the Taliban and Islamic extremist fighters from multiple countries — at the same time. On one occasion, in south-central Afghanistan in Uruzgan province (the birthplace of the Taliban), during a multi-day mission to retake a small river valley along the Helmand river from Taliban control, we engaged fighters and intercepted radio chatter from fighters speaking Pashto (Taliban), Arabic (al-Qaeda), Urdu (Pakistanis), Russian (Chechens), and Farsi (Iranians). Let that marinate for a few minutes.

With all of these different groups and interests competing for influence, it is a safe assumption that Afghanistan can very likely become a safe haven for other extremist and terrorist groups. It is possible those groups will grow, strengthen, and train others to join their cause. Although it’s likely that some of these groups will turn on each other as they, at times, have competing ideas and agendas, their current presence in the country and confluence in capturing it cannot be ignored.

The U.S. and the Western allies cannot, and should not, look away and allow this to happen.

Even if the consensus is that we should pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and allow the Afghan government and military to stand on their own, we should not turn away completely. We should continue to offer support, funding, and even military aid so that the Afghan government has as much opportunity as possible to resist the resurgent Taliban.