Taliban's influence in terrorism resurgence an 'open question': General Angus Campbell

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell. Picture: Keegan Carroll
Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Whether the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan will lead to a resurgence in global terrorism remains an "open question", Australia's top military official has conceded.

Senior government figures were asked to explain what intelligence they received and advice they gave to ministers in a senate hearing on Australia's handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan on Monday.

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell was asked what implications the withdrawal of Australian troops and ground support from Afghanistan by the end of August could have on global counter-terrorism efforts.

Asked whether the Taliban's takeover would inspire terrorists around the world, he said the matter still remained "unclear".

"The efforts of the international community are focused on seeking to encourage, persuade, to see the Taliban meet their responsibilities now as an organisation that is in control of Afghanistan, not to see international terrorism to re-emerge from Afghanistan," he told senators on Monday.

"But it is an open question."

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie asked General Campbell the most important goal for the coalition of nations to achieve was in the central Asian country at the turn of the millennium.

He said it was to deny terrorist organisations, like Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda group, a "safe haven" in the country.

Special representative on Afghanistan Daniel Sloper said Australia's focus now was on ensuring the Taliban remained true to its commitments to uphold human rights and allow for the safe passage of those wishing to leave the country.

"It is in no one's interests for Afghanistan, or its neighbourhood, to become unstable," he said.

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Department of Defence secretary Greg Moriarty noted some military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan during both the initial June withdrawal and again on the last flight out in September.

Mr Moriarty said four ADF-owned road vehicles, and some other general items, were gifted to Japan and the United Kingdom to support their operations.

"It was not possible to extract the vehicles on our last flight," he said.

"I can assure you no offensive weaponry was gifted," General Campbell added.

Defence Department secretary Greg Moriarty. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Defence Department secretary Greg Moriarty. Picture: Keegan Carroll

The hearing also revealed almost 170 Australian citizens and permanent residents still remained in Afghanistan after the September deadline.

As of November 12, there were 87 citizens and 82 permanent residents in the country but evacuations are ramping up as flights out of the capital Kabul become more feasible.

Just under 900 people had crossed the Pakistan border and a small number had also presented in Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

About 80 Australian citizens, permanent residents and visa holders made their way to capital cities across Europe and the Middle East.

- with AAP


This story Afghanistan's role in terrorism resurgence an 'open question' first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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