The sun rises on Forward Operating Base Kutschbach, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, Dec. 12, 2012. The cloudy weather lowered visibility in the surrounding area. (Army photo / Spc. Andrew Claire Baker)

As the war in Afghanistan drags on, and as President Donald Trump reportedly approves a tentative peace deal with the Taliban, several experts addressed a national security question that has dogged policy makers for years: if the 13,000 American troops still in Afghanistan were to leave, would the country become a launching pad for a second terrorist attack on the scale of September 11, 2001?

That question was brought up at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, where former officials from the U.S. military and State Department agreed that a large military presence in Afghanistan would not be necessary to ensure a second plot against the U.S. on the scale of 9/11 does not unfold. Instead, the officials said the U.S. could rely on diplomacy and its current mix of worldwide counter-terrorism assets to defeat any emerging threats to the homeland.

"Frankly, I believe we can sustain the counter-terrorism mission from outside Afghanistan," said Douglas Lute, a retired Army officer, former deputy national security advisor, and a former U.S. permanent representative to NATO, at a Senate hearing about the costs and benefits of the war in Afghanistan.

"That is contrary to a lot of military advice this committee would hear," Lute said. "But we do it most of the rest of the places around the world," such as in Somalia, across the Sahel, in North Africa and in Syria to some extent, he said.

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(DoD photo)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A man accused by the FBI of planning a 2018 attack on a downtown Cleveland park during a popular Independence Day celebration was sentenced Tuesday to spend 14 years in federal prison.

Demetrius Pitts, who has roots in Cincinnati and Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in November to attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group al Qaeda, as well as making threats against President Donald Trump and his children. His plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office called for the 14-year sentence.

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The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola is seen on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. March 16, 2016. Picture taken March 16, 2016. (U.S. Navy/Patrick Nichols via Reuters)

CAIRO (Reuters) - An audio recording purporting to be from the Islamist militant group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility on Sunday for a fatal shooting in December at a U.S. naval base in Pensacola, Florida, but provided no evidence.

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A U.S. Soldier assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) runs for cover during a live fire exercise at the 7th Army Training Command, Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. (U.S. Army/Gertrud Zach)

A memo circulating over the weekend warning of a "possible imminent attack" against U.S. soldiers in Germany was investigated by Army officials, who found there to not be a serious threat after all.

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Imran Rabbani at New York University's Islamic Center. He's in his third semester at the university. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

NEWARK, N.J. — On a rainy morning, Imran Rabbani returned to the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center so he could reunite with his former keepers.

Four years before, Rabbani had arrived at the facility in shackles after being swept up in an Islamic State-inspired plot to set off a pressure-cooker bomb in New York. He was 17.

Now, just starting his third semester at New York University, the 22-year-old Rabbani wanted to give thanks to the people who guided him away from Islamist extremism. As he waited in the library last summer, glancing at books that had proved crucial to his transformation, the room slowly filled with city officials, staff and guards.

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U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, U.S., January 9, 2020. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to kill Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, and said "it doesn't really matter" whether Soleimani posed an imminent threat to the United States.

"The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was 'imminent' or not, & was my team in agreement," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn't really matter because of his horrible past!"

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