President Trump has vowed to leave “strong intelligence” in Afghanistan as he oversees US troop withdrawal from the country after 18 years of a military presence there.
Trump made the statement in a pre-recorded interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired Monday evening, noting that his administration has dropped the number of troops in the country from 16,000 to 9,000.
Trump said that he wanted to “get out” of Afghanistan, but added he believes the country could be a hotbed of terrorist activity.
“The problem is, it just seems to be a lab for terrorists. It seems — I call it the ‘Harvard of terrorists,’” Trump said.
“When you look at the World Trade Center, they were trained … They didn’t come from Iraq, all right. They came from various other countries. But they all formed in Afghanistan, and it’s probably because it’s at the base of so many countries, but they all formed and it’s rough mountains and you get a lot of — you know, you get a lot of good hiding places,” he added.
Trump then said he would leave intelligence officers in the country to monitor the activity if the US did pull out.
“I would leave very strong intelligence there. You have to watch,” he said.
Trump has advocated withdrawing troops from Afghanistan since before his presidency.
The US and the Taliban began a fresh round of talks in Qatar on Saturday after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is aiming for a peace agreement before September.
Author: Ben Feuerherd