NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — In the midst of the chaos unfolding in Afghanistan, the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert about a “heightened threat environment” as the 20th anniversary of September 11th attacks grows closer.
DHS did not cite any specific threats in the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin. But it noted that the U.S. is in a “heightened threat environment,” fueled by factors that include violent extremists motivated by racial and ethnic hatred and resentment of restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
“The 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well (as) religious holidays we assess could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence,” the bulletin said.
In light of the bulletin, security analysts say the situation developing in Afghanistan is cause for real concern. They say that as the Taliban retakes control, terrorist groups like al-Qaida may be free to reconstitute there.
There is some dissent within the counterterrorism ranks about just how significant current events in Afghanistan are and whether the U.S. withdrawal was the right move.
“If there’s no attacks on the homeland spawning from Afghanistan in three, five, or 10 years I think we’ll look back on it and say it was the right choice,” said David Schanzer, a Duke University counterterrorism expert.
“Our presence there was actually achieving something,” said Paul Miller of Georgetown University’s school of foreign service. “We were keeping the Taliban at bay and preventing al-Qaida from reconstituting safe haven, keeping them on the run. And all of that will be undone now with our withdrawal. So, I’m mystified why the president decided what he decided.”
The DHS bulletin is set to expire on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but it could be extended.