'Plan Z': With Afghanistan lost, U.S. weighs help from adversaries in terror fight
Oct 21, 2021 2 mins, 3 secs
must do better protecting those left behind in Afghanistan.

America’s top generals say a counterterrorism partnership with the Taliban is a possibility.

in its effort to halt the expansion of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, slow a seemingly inevitable resurgence of al Qaeda and otherwise manage threats emanating from a country that is on the fast track to once again become the global epicenter of Islamist terrorism.

That such moves are even on the table, critics say, offers more proof that President Biden’s decision to proceed with the military withdrawal from Afghanistan has left America and its allies in a dangerous, compromised position.

Pentagon officials have talked hopefully of keeping an “over-the-horizon” watch on the expanding terrorist threat inside Afghanistan, but the early results have been negative and the skepticism about the U.S.

If we’re seriously talking to the Russians, we must be on Plan Z,” said Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator under President Trump.

But I don’t recall a situation where we were seriously contemplating partnering with a sworn adversary, which is what the Taliban is and Russia is under Vladimir Putin,” Mr.

Foreign policy analysts generally believe an immediate terrorist threat from Afghanistan is relatively low.

ISIS-K is a potentially destabilizing force inside Afghanistan, but the group has limited capability to conduct attacks elsewhere in the Middle East or Asia, let alone Europe or the U.S., specialists say.

The Taliban have vowed not to allow Afghanistan to be a haven where al Qaeda or other groups could plot attacks on the U.S., but Mr.

Even Russia has said it will not officially recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan until it proves it will abide by the guarantees it has made.

The Kremlin’s priorities appear to be to make sure Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan isn’t imported to Russia and that the current crisis in Afghanistan doesn’t spill over to Central Asian states that Moscow considers part of its security zone of influence.

officials have been reticent about long-term counterterrorism options beyond over-the-horizon strike capabilities, but they have confirmed that the Pentagon has talked with Russian military leaders about basing U.S.

counterterrorism assets at Russian facilities near Afghanistan.

Having fought the Taliban for two decades, Pentagon leaders say they are open to partnering with the Taliban for counterterrorism strikes against ISIS-K, though specialists caution against it

The Taliban “would be a terrible partner in the fight against ISIS

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