TERRORIST training camps could be set up once again in Afghanistan and may spawn a new wave of violence against the West, experts have warned.
Taliban fighters are surging across the war-torn nation as the US moves to withdraw its forces after 20 years and more than $1trillion spent on the campaign.
And it was chillingly predicted the the resurgent militants and their accompanying terror groups now see the West as "weak" and ripe for striking back against in a new wave of bloodshed.
Professor Anthony Glees, from the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, grimly warned the Taliban are now "back with a vengeance".
And he foresaw a return of the infamous terrorist training camps that once dotted Afghanistan.
The camps saw fighters from al-Qaeda and other terror groups learn how to make bombs, hone their killing skills and plot against the West with the backing of the Taliban.
He told The Sun Online there will "definitely" be a fresh terror threat posed by a new Taliban regime.
And he added the US withdrawal will make them believe "we have lost our will to fight for our values and that we are weaker, not stronger".
"The more the Taliban are left to their own devices, the more they can hone their forces and their fellow Islamist 'students' in the West," he said.
At the time of the September 11 attacks – its believed there were 120 training camps operating across Afghanistan and Pakistan, training militia to support the Taliban and terrorist fighters for operations abroad.
Taliban forces were first overthrown in 2001 following a US invasion – but since US President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw, the group has now gone on to seize one third of Afghanistan.
And further offensives are expected throughout the summer with warnings the jihadi forces could take the capital of Kabul within six months.
It is being described by concerned US intelligence officials as "the greatest jihadist victory since the Soviets quit in 1989".
By the end of the year is it most likely that the Government will have fallen or be fighting to survive
Experts now fear a deadly resurgence could unfold allowing jihadis to form a base to unleash a reign of terror on the West with Afghan forces running scared and a government on the verge of complete collapse.
If the terror group continue its offensive blitz, experts also fear the streets of Afghan could return to the days of Taliban rule with public beheadings & amputations as well as women being sold into sex slavery.
They also fear that with a "fractured" Taliban in charge other terror groups such as ISIS could use the country as a stronghold to plot atrocities in Europe and the UK.
Professor Glees told The Sun Online: "The point is that the Taliban are fanatics, the worst kind of enemy, they are, in their terms, not just extremely brave because they love death like all Islamists, but are fighting for a belief, a religion – the word Taliban means 'religious student' – not just political control.
"They will, once they have full control, return to type and do all the things they did before, persecute, torture and murder all who oppose them; enslave and degrade their fellow female citizens, prevent them from gaining an education, destroy anything that conflicts with their religious world view."
He went on: "I am sure the training of jihadists will resume and I'd not be surprised if the first recruits to the training camps don't begin to make their way to Afghanistan on 12 September 2021.
"We in the UK have spent more than 21 years dealing with the Islamist threat, we have no interest in it coming back to have another go at us. What's more, precisely because we seem to be retreating, seem to be agreeing the Taliban has won, we will encourage them to strike at us again.
"We seem weak, and that's the last thing we should be doing. We are not strong enough to be there without the USA."
The expert also said Biden made "entirely the wrong decision" with consequences "for all Western states but most of all for the brave Afghans" when he followed through with his predecessor Donald Trump's plan to pull out the troops.
"[They] jumped at the chance to work with the US, the UK and our NATO allies, to try to create a better future for themselves, have been betrayed. They now await a terrifying fate," he said.
Robert Clarke, from the national security think tank Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun Online while part of the US's withdrawal agreement was the nation would not be a safe haven for terrorists – the Taliban may not stick to that bargain.
He also warned other terrorists groups such as ISIS may seek to move in and set up their own recruitment and training camps, saying "it could become a terror battleground".
"Much the same as the Taliban did before carrying out the 9/11 attacks. Afghan was just to plan attacks and carry out training," he said.
"The Taliban as a group are diverse and clash at senior levels, as they become more fractored the worse it will become and other terror groups like to take advantage. "
And day-to-day life for the people of Afghanistan will likely revert to the brutal rule of the militant groups, with some already pledging to return the nation to strict versions of Islamic law.
The Taliban has seized control of a third of the country, most of that territory within the last two weeks, putting them within striking distance of major cities such as Herat and Kabul, where 95% of NATO were previously based.
A recent US intelligence report warned they could take the capital within six months with experts fearing the government could be overthrown by the end of the year.
The terror group is reportedly already launching violent attacks on Kabul, a city well known for opposing Taliban rule after 55 were killed in a car bombing at a school back in May.
Afghan forces are said to be striking deals with Taliban soldiers in exchange for immunity, abandoning check points and handing over weapons to avoid bloodshed, a move that has allowed them to move quickly.
A 25-year-old Afghan fighter trained by US & UK troops told the Times: “America and Britain came to our country and fuelled the flames of war with the Taliban.
“Now the foreigners are running away without quelling the fire, leaving us alone to a life-or-death struggle.”
Fighting has exhausted Afghan forces, seeing troops complain they are outnumbered, outgunned, under-paid and weary from 20 years of fighting.
Mr Clark, who served in the British army for nine years, told The Sun Online is unsurprising the Afghan forces are rolling over – with local commanders having to strike deals with the Taliban.
And while these deals could help quell some bloodshed, it won't stop their ruthless rise – with the potential fall of Kabul sparking a "domino effect".
“By the end of the year is it most likely that the Government will have fallen or be fighting to survive," he said.
20 years in Afghanistan – what happened?
US forces have begun a full withdrawal from Afghanistan under the orders of US President Joe Biden after spending 20 years fighting to stablise the war-torn nation.
Some 456 British soldiers and 2,420 Americans – along with hundreds of other coalition troops – died during the war which was sparked by the September 11 attacks.
And the civilian casualties are estimated to have been almost 50,000.
Codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom, the US led an invasion off Afghanistan to oust the Taliban after al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Centre and other US buildings in 2001.
The mission was to oust the Taliban, who were said to be harbouring terrorists and providing them a safe haven- including Osama bin Laden.
What followed was nearly 20 years of grinding conflict as the US, its allies, and the Afghan security forces staged a grinding campaign to attempt to rebuild the country and beat back the Taliban.
The Taliban had ruled most of Afghanistan following the Afghan Civil War in the 90s – sparked by the withdrawal of the Soviet Union.
Western nations had actually supported the Taliban in the 80s as the ran an insurgency against the Soviet backed regime of Mohammad Najibullah.
However, after seizing power in 1996 – the Taliban brutally ruled Afghanistan and offered a safe haven to terrorist killers like Osama.
As the US war rolled on into the 2010s, Bin Laden was killed in May, 2011, in a US special forces raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
And since then there has been a slow withdrawal, with British troops officially ending combat operations in October 2014.
February 2020 saw a peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which agreed to a withdrawal – whoever the Afghan government criticised it as being done behind "closed doors".
Taliban forces have since continued their operations and have been gaining ground – and the US continues to pull back its troops.
The war is seen as defeating the Taliban and improving the lives of the Afghan people who were once living under strict Islamic law and who now have free elections.
However, for some it is unfinished job which was mishandled – and that may 20 years on simply see a return to the dominance of the Taliban as they did pre-9/11.
The US have wasted nearly $1trillion on the "pointless" 20-year battle trying to stave off the terror group before vowing to withdraw by September this year.
The security void could mean countries such as China could step in, having an economical interest in Afghan’s mines for minerals such as cobalt, used to produce much-needed microchips.
Experts describe China as a "silent partner" as it would look to also protect its small border with Afghanistan from terrorists who threaten its national security.
Russia could also look to exploit the power vacuum and are already said to have positioned Wagner mercenaries in the west and north of the country.
But Turkey could play the biggest role and has already offered troops to protect Kabul’s Hamid Karzai international airport, despite the Taliban announcing it would oppose any foreign troops left in the country after the withdrawal date.
The Turkish presence in Afghan could be a chance to repair ties with Washington after years of disputes.
Mr Clark said he believes China could step in to secure their own security and resources, while Russia may look to also exploit the situation – meanwhile Iran may also quietly continue to back the Taliban.
Professor Glees however believes Russia and China will "stay out" of the warzone – and only intervene should the Taliban begin to threaten them.
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