Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Taliban: The Terror Groups That Have Called Qatar Home

Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, June 13, 2017:

The government of Sunni-majority Qatar has long hosted and legitimized political leaders from the terrorist organizations known as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the Hamas Palestinian movement, and more recently the Afghan Taliban.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain have severed ties with their fellow predominantly Sunni nation Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the Muslim region with its support for Islamic terrorist organizations and plunging the Arab Gulf nations into a diplomatic crisis.

Qatari officials have repeatedly denied the allegations, dismissing them as “unjustified” and having “no basis in fact.”

“Qatar became a central target of the Saudi-Emirati-Israeli joint lobbying efforts for its perceived role in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood and hosting members of Hamas’ political bureau,” reports Al Jazeera.

In 2013, Qatar allowed the Afghan Taliban to open an official political office in its capital Doha. Although the Qatari government allegedly shut it down, Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be still operating in Doha.

A senior Qatari official recently told Al Jazeera that Doha hosted the Taliban at the “request of the U.S. government,” led by former President Barack Obama at the time.

Under President Donald Trump, who has recently expressed strong support for Saudi Arabia, the United States joined the Sunni kingdom’s allies in condemning Qatar for supporting and assisting Iran and jihadist groups.

Hamas, officially deemed as a terrorist group by the United States, is considered one of Iran’s terror proxies.

Echoing comments made by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Tuesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) blasted Qatar’s ties to terrorism on the same day.

Qatar “must stop supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Jubeir told reporters.

During a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing titled, “Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S.-Saudi Relationship,” Chairman Royce declared:

Qatar’s relationship with Hamas remains very concerning. Senior leaders of Hamas and the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood – which is an Islamist group designated as terrorists by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates – all reside in Qatar today.

And earlier this month – and I think this is what is most concerning for all of us here – more Hamas tunnels were found under two U.N. Relief Works Agency schools in Gaza. Found underneath the schools in Gaza. So Hamas is still using civilians and children to hide its activities. And that, to me, does not sound like a legitimate resistance movement.

Qatar’s foreign minister recently referred to Hamas as “a legitimate resistance movement.”

The Sunni country “has doubled down on its relationship with Hamas,” noted Congressman Royce, later adding, “This practice needs to end now. There is no such thing as a ‘good terrorist group.’”

According to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hamas is responsible for for the death of more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 American citizens.

“Palestinian terrorism represents a grave threat to Israeli security and the prospects for a two-state solution,” said New York’s Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House panel, in a statement issued on May 26.“Congress must work to stop international support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and foreign supporters of these organizations must understand the risks associated with perpetuating this perverse violence.”

The Obama administration refused to officially deem the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group despite requests from Republican lawmakers.

President Trump is expected to support efforts to label MB a terrorist organization.

Unlike its predecessor, the Trump administration did not hesitate to refer to the Afghan Taliban as a “terrorist” group.

The U.S. has officially labeled the Afghan Taliban a terrorist organization.

Qatari foreign minister’s special envoy on counterterrorism told Al Jazeera that Doha allowed the Afghan Taliban to establish an office at the “request of the U.S. government” in 2013 and as part of the country’s “open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace.”

Qatar “was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan,” claimed Mutlaq Al Qahtani, the FM’s envoy.

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Zawahiri lectures on global jihad, warns of national boundaries

LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | June 10, 2017

Sometime in the last few years, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri got an editor. Known for his long-winded lectures, Zawahiri has increasingly recorded shorter messages with more focused arguments. The latest of these came yesterday, when As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released the seventh episode in Zawahiri’s “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation” series. The message is titled, “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts.”

Zawahiri emphasizes a core part of his organization’s ideology: jihad is an obligation for Muslims around the globe, especially when non-believers infringe of Muslim lands. Of course, many Muslim authorities are deemed illegitimate in this view of the world, as they do not adhere to the same version of Islam espoused by the jihadists.

The message opens with images of: Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Izz Ad-Deen Al-Qassam, a Syrian Islamic thinker who preached jihad; Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of the predecessor to al Qaeda and godfather of modern jihadism; al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Suri, an ideologue whose teachings are influential; Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani, a co-founder of the al Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic party; and Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Zawahiri and As Sahab portray these men as part of the same jihadist tradition, stretching back into the early 20th Century.

“Our Ummah today is up against a global war in which Western and Eastern (Orthodox) Crusaders, Chinese, Hindus, Safavi Rawafidh [meaning the Iranians and allied Shiites] and secular nationalists are partners in crime,” Zawahiri says. “From the coasts of al-Maghreb (Western North Africa) to Eastern Turkistan, you will find a Muslim world confronted by aggression, occupation, repression, bombardment, and international alliances working hand[s] in gloves with client regimes, which are outside the pale of Islam and work for the interests of the leading international criminals.”

Al Qaeda has repeatedly argued that Muslims are confronted by this supposedly grand alliance. It is an enlargement of the alleged “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy that Osama bin Laden first made the cornerstone of his thinking in the 1990s.

Zawahiri is forced to explain how so many parties, which are often at odds with one another, are really part of the same unified effort.

“In terms of peculiarities, one region may differ slightly from another, but there are obvious common denominators, namely fighting Islam in the name of the ‘Fight against Terrorism’ and subservience to an ‘International System,’ cleverly crafted by the victors of World War II for the mutual division and theft of the natural resources of the world – specifically the Muslim world,” Zawahiri says.

The al Qaeda leader argues that the US is still the main enemy. “You will find that the major role in this criminal alliance belongs to the Americans, and then the roles gradually differ as per the power wielded by each partner and its stakes in the system,” he claims.

Zawahiri preaches unity in the face of these overwhelming odds. He quotes an Islamic verse — “And hold on strongly to the rope of Allah and be not divided amongst yourselves” — that al Qaeda routinely peppers throughout its productions.

And he says the “jurists” long ago “ruled that the lands of the Muslims have the status of a single domain.”

Zawahiri continues: “There is a consensus amongst the jurists that if the disbelieving enemy occupies a Muslim land, it becomes obligatory on its residents to defend that land, and if they find themselves unable to do so, this obligation expands in a circular fashion to those nearest to them, and so on until it encompasses Muslims all over the globe.”

Muslims “have always risen up to defend their lands regardless of nationality or race,” he continues. And this was the “prevailing norm until the demise of the Ottoman state, which had defended the lands of Islam for five centuries.”

“After the fall of the Ottomans,” Zawahiri says, “the concept of nation-states with boundaries demarcated by the infidel occupiers started holding sway, and among Muslims arose some proponents of this notion. This is why the callers of the Islamic revival actively fought against this concept.” (Supporters of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State were quick to point out online that Zawahiri wanted to keep the jihad in Iraq separate from the war in Syria, which they say contradicts his stance.)

The al Qaeda emir then lists the men he counts as key revivalists, pointing out that they waged jihad far outside of their native lands.

Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian, organized “battalions for the liberation of Palestine.” Izz ad-Deen al-Qassam, a Syrian, waged “jihad in Palestine.” Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian, awakened “the ummah to defend Afghanistan” and declared “most unequivocally that jihad has been a Fardh Ayn (a compulsory individual obligation) since the fall of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain).”

“Then emerged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban’s state], and we saw Afghans and emigrants alike pledging allegiance to it,” Zawahiri says. “Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Suri – both Arabs – and Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani” pledged “allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Afghani (may Allah have mercy on each one of them).”

“So may Allah reward these pioneers, who revived the spirit of one united ummah confronting a disbelieving enemy,” Zawahiri says toward the end of his talk.

He then warns that some seek to divide the jihad according to national boundaries, which is unacceptable. It is an argument he has made in other recent productions. While it is a general point that al Qaeda has made often in the past, it is likely something that Zawahiri wants to emphasize, once again, as jihadi ideologues are currently debating the appropriate course in Syria.

“But today, there are some who want to push us back behind the lines of division drawn by disbelieving occupiers…Pakistan for Pakistanis, Syria for Syrians, Palestine for Palestinians…in the interest of whom, may we ask?” Zawahiri concludes: “May Allah help us gather our strength, bring our hearts closer, unite our ranks, and not deprive us of victory because of our sins.”

Zawahiri’s message was released with an English transcript. As Sahab and al Qaeda’s regional branches have increasingly released English-language content over the previous year. It is an indication that their media efforts have been substantially improved after facing multiple disruptions in 2014 and in the years thereafter.

[For context on the debate regarding the jihadist project in Syria, see FDD’s Long War Journal reports: Pro-Al Qaeda ideologue criticizes joint bombings by Russia and Turkey in Syria; Hay’at Tahrir al Sham leader calls for ‘unity’ in Syrian insurgency; and Ayman al Zawahiri warns against ‘nationalist’ agenda in

Screen shots from “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts”:

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

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Al Qaeda preaches world conquest of all religions and peoples. @billroggio @thomasjoscelyn @followfdd John Batchelor Show

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Recommends ‘Cheaper, Lighter’ Afghanistan Approach

AFP

Breitbart, by Kristina Wong, June 12, 2017:

Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince is recommending, as the Trump administration debates its Afghanistan War approach, that the U.S. military go back to its light footprint approach in Afghanistan.

Prince told the “Breitbart News Sunday” radio program that the approach – which would see CIA, special operators, and contractors working with Afghan forces to target terrorists – would be more effective and save the U.S. billions of dollars annually.

“I say go back to the model that worked, for a couple hundred years in the region, by the East India company, which used professional Western soldiers who were contracted and lived with trained with and when necessary fought with their local counterparts,” he said.

Prince said the most effective time the U.S. had in Afghanistan against terrorism was the first 12 months after the September 2001 attack, where CIA, special operators, and contractors worked with local Afghan forces with air support.

“That really put the Taliban and al Qaeda on the back heels,” he said. “The more we’ve gone into a conventional approach in Afghanistan, the more we are losing.”

Prince, who has advised the Trump campaign, argued that the light footprint approach was more effective.

“[It] literally puts them side by side, living in the same base. Believe me – if you’re a trainer, and your life depends on the success of the unit, you are going to make sure the men are paid, fed, equipped,” he said.

Prince also argued that the light footprint approach would also be “much cheaper, more sustainable” – about 10 percent of the current costs.

“We’re spending, this year as a country, $45 billion there… That’s a staggering amount of money, and this is a time when [the Department of Defense] needs more money to reset equip and airplanes and boats and tanks and everything else,” he said.

Prince argued that today’s approach is not working.

There are currently about 8,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan conducting a train-and-advise mission as well as a counterterrorism mission. After former President Obama declared the combat mission over in December 2014, the Taliban have made a comeback, and now control about a third of the country.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has also established a nascent presence on the ground there.

“The way the U.S. Army does it now, is the Americans live on one base, the Afghans live on another base, they act have to fly over to the other base, maybe see them once or twice a week, they don’t really go on missions with them anymore and it really lives the indigenous units hanging,” he said.

“So they go out on patrol, they can’t get the fires support, they can’t get resupply, they can’t [be medically evacuated], they miss the basic soldiering that would let them be successful,” he said.

He said many of the 300,000-plus Afghan forces supported by the U.S. are “ghosts” – with corrupt officials pocketing the money instead. Plus, he said supporting that many forces is beyond Afghanistan’s capability.

The approach Prince recommended tracks with one that some of Trump’s advisers are advocating for – a focus on the counterterrorism mission versus nation building, with special operators training Afghan forces.

Another approach under consideration, backed by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, is surging an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, and hitting the Taliban harder to force it back to the negotiating table.

Prince also recommended putting a U.S. leader in charge of Afghanistan that would extend past the limited tours that U.S. military commanders normally have there, and relaxing rules of engagement.

“We’ve had 17 different commanders in a 15-year period. No great football team or sports teams changes its coaches every year, yet we’ve done that more than every year and with predictable results,” he said.

He also recommended pushing Afghans to sustain is own economy, including passing a mining law necessary to take advantage of the $1 trillion in minerals the country is estimated to have.

Prince said that, currently, Afghanistan’s economy is 90 percent dependent on donor aid, and its security budget totally dependent on the U.S.

“There is gold, copper and iron ore, and a bunch of rare earth elements, lithium — all very high value stuff and oil and gas as well,” he said. “But all the experts at the State Department have yet to get the Afghans to pass a mining law.”

Meanwhile, he said the Taliban is raking in money from opium, hashish, gold, lapis, marble, and pistachios.

“The Taliban has dominated each of those spaces, each of those parts of the economy and that’s what they use to fund their entire insurgency and that’s why they’re able to pay well, and to grow and to flourish, and it’s really, really frustrating.”

The U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, after the Taliban allowed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York that killed 2,996 people and wounded more than 6,000 others.

The CIA and special operators led the successful invasion, toppling the Taliban from power and establishing a presence there from which to go after al Qaeda. Many fled into Pakistan, including bin Laden, who was later killed there in 2011.

But since then, the U.S. and NATO countries have had a presence of more than a hundred thousand troops there. Former President Barack Obama in 2009 ordered a troop surge of around 30,000 into the country, simultaneously announcing they would begin to withdraw in 18 months – a timeline that angered U.S. military commanders who felt it was a signal to the Taliban to wait coalition forces out.

After U.S. troops began withdrawing and Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014, the Taliban has made a comeback and now control at least a third of the territory and about as much of the population.

Today, Prince said, there are about 20 different terrorist groups there.

“The Taliban continues to be aligned 100 percent to al Qaeda and its where number terrorist attacks — the most notable one being the 9/11 attacks, emanated from Afghanistan,” he said.

“We have to accept that Afghanistan is a very rough place. It’s resident to 20 different terrorist org and there’s a lot of bad things that emanate from there so getting to a manageable state.”

Prince noted that the Taliban has retaken Sangin, a district in southern Afghanistan that U.S. troops fought hard to pacify, and recently held a victory parade out in the open.

“They had a victory parade in broad daylight with hundreds of Taliban and dozens of vehicles. They did it in broad daylight an they were unafraid of someone attacking them,” he said. “The terrorists have to fear waking up the next morning.”

Bomb blast rocks Kabul during rush hour, killing dozens of civilians

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 31, 2017:

A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated near diplomatic facilities in the Afghan capital during rush hour this morning. Preliminary casualty reports say that at least 80 people were killed in the blast and dozens more wounded. A photo of the aftermath of the bombing (seen above) was posted on Twitter by Afghanistan’s Ariana News.

The bomb exploded at 8:22 am local time “in Kabul near Zambaq Square outside the Green Zone, which houses diplomatic and government facilities,” according to NATO’s Resolute Support. Afghan security forces “prevented the VBIED from gaining entry to the Green Zone,” but dozens of nearby civilians perished.

The Taliban has already denied any involvement via a statement attributed to Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman. It is likely that the Islamic State, which has carried out large-scale operations in Kabul this year, will claim responsibility.

Even though the Taliban-led insurgency is responsible for many civilian casualties, the organization is concerned with how its violence is perceived by the Afghan population. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists have no such concern.

Resolute Support quickly pointed out that the “attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people.” It “also highlights the hypocrisy of the enemy who claim that they only target Afghan Security Forces and Foreign forces, yet continue to cause death and suffering amongst innocent Afghans.”

Mujahid’s statement reads like a response to Resolute Support. “This explosion has nothing to do with the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate,” the statement reads. “Our Mujahideen are not involved in this incident and neither are the Mujahideen allowed to carry out such…large explosions at ill-defined areas.” The Taliban’s spokesman says the group “condemns every explosion and attack carried out against civilians, or in which civilians are harmed and [there is] no legitimate target.”

“Our countrymen must rest assured that the Kabul attack is not the work of Mujahideen,” Mujahid says.

The German government confirmed that the bombing was “carried out in the immediate vicinity” of its embassy. “It hit civilians and it hit those who are in Afghanistan to work with the people there on a better future for the country,” Germany’s minister of foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, said in a statement. “It is particularly despicable that these people were targeted.” Gabriel said that German Embassy staff members were injured, but all of them “are now safe.” An Afghan security officer who was guarding the grounds wasn’t so lucky, as he was killed in the explosion.

BBC News reported that Mohammed Nazir, an Afghan driver who worked with the service’s journalists, was killed. Afghanistan’s ToloNews has also reported at least one death as a result of the bombing.

The Islamic State has carried out several high-profile attacks in Kabul this year.

On Feb. 7, the group launched a suicide bombing outside of the supreme court, killing at least 20 people.

Then, on Mar. 8, an Islamic State suicide team assaulted the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul. According to the UN, the hospital is “the largest military medical facility in Afghanistan” and “treats sick and wounded members of the armed forces and their family members.” The jihadists dressed like hospital personnel in order to confuse their victims. There are conflicting reports with respect to the total number of casualties, but dozens were killed or wounded.

On May 3, another suicide bomber detonated his VBIED at an Afghan security checkpoint near the US Embassy in Kabul. The Islamic State’s jihadist was targeting a NATO convoy, but at least eight civilians were killed. Three coalition service members were also wounded, according to Resolute Support.

The US has been leading a counterterrorism operation against the Islamic State’s Wilyah Khorasan (or Khorasan province) in eastern Afghanistan. In April, three American service members were killed during raids in Nangarhar, which has been Wilayah Khorasan’s stronghold. The so-called caliphate’s men have lost ground in Nangarhar, but are still able to execute high-profile operations in Kabul and elsewhere. [For more on the US-led effort against the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: 2 American service members killed fighting Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.]

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

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Pentagon Teeters On The Edge Of Full-Scale War In Afghanistan

US Army/Flickr

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjetti, May 9, 017:

President Donald Trump’s most senior advisers will present him with a plan to escalate the U.S. military’s mission in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports.

This plan includes ramping up the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan along with changing the U.S. military’s rules of engagement while supporting the Afghan National Security Forces. The goal of the plan is to curb the Taliban’s battlefield gains and push them into entering a peace process with the Afghan government.

Both U.S. military commanders in charge of the war have told Congress the U.S. is in a stalemate with the Taliban and needs a few thousand more troops to tip the balance.

Trump will reportedly make the final call on the plan before a May 25 meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels. Trump campaigned on a promise to defeat the Islamic State, which has a nascent presence in Afghanistan. The terrorist group is just one of a myriad problems for the U.S. in Afghanistan.

The Taliban movement controls nearly one-third of the Afghan population and more territory than at any time since 2001, a new United Nations report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveals. The plan essentially doubles down on supporting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Afghan forces, however, are beset by a host of problems, which nearly $75 billion in U.S. aid has been unable to fix so far.

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction noted April 30 that Afghan forces face “many problems: unsustainable casualties, temporary losses of provincial and district centers, weakness in logistics and other functions, illiteracy in the ranks, often corrupt or ineffective leadership, and over-reliance on highly trained special forces for routine missions.”

The report also found the Afghan forces continue to suffer “shockingly” high casualties, noting 807 Afghan troops were killed in just the first six weeks of 2017, and that nearly 35 percent of the force chooses not to re-enlist each year.

The Taliban announced its spring fighting season April 28, signaling its annual intent to ramp up operations across the country. The announcement said the group would focus on “foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure.”

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

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Al Qaeda and the Taliban rule Afghanistan, 16 years later. @SebGorka, Deputy Assistant to the President.

 

John Batchelor Show, May 4, 2017:

Al Qaeda and the Taliban rule Afghanistan, 16 years later. @sebastiangorka, Deputy Assistant to the President.

Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has not occurred in a vacuum. It has maintained its strength in the country since the U.S. invasion, launched a new branch, AQIS, and established training camps with the help and support of the Taliban.

When Generals Campbell and Buchanan discussed al-Qaeda in the wake of the Shorabak raid, they described the group as resurgent. Campbell described the Taliban-al-Qaeda relationship as a “renewed partnership,” while Buchanan said it “has since ‘grown stronger.’”

But like the estimate that al-Qaeda maintained a small cadre of 50 to 100 operatives in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2016, the idea that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have only recently reinvigorated their relationship is incorrect. Al-Qaeda would not have been able to maintain a large cadre of fighters and leaders inside Afghanistan, conduct operations in 25 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, establish training camps, and relocate high-level leaders from Pakistan’s tribal areas to Afghanistan without the Taliban’s long-term support.

Al-Qaeda has remained loyal to the Taliban’s leader, which it describes as the Amir al- Mumineen, or the “Commander of the Faithful,” since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Osama bin Laden maintained his oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder and first emir. When bin Laden died, Ayman al-Zawahiri renewed that oath. And when Mullah Omar’s death was announced in 2015, Zawahiri swore bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Mullah Mansour, the Taliban’s new leader. Mansour publicly accepted Zawahiri’s oath.

Photo: Long War Journal

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PENTAGON: TERRORISTS THREATENING TO CONTROL 40% OF AFGHANISTAN

So why is Congress OK’ing 2,500 more US visas for Afghan immigrants?

Front Page Magazine, by Paul Sperry, May 4, 2017:

A just-released Pentagon report suggests Afghanistan is spiraling toward civil war with the number of terrorist attacks, casualties and displacements of Afghans hitting record highs, thanks in no small part to former President Obama’s precipitous withdrawal of US combat troops starting in 2014.

As the Afghan government risks losing roughly 40 percent of the country to terrorists and insurgents, Congress proposes issuing 2,500 more visas to Afghan nationals to allow them to immigrate to America, a move that raises security concerns. The Pentagon says ISIS has established beachheads in several Afghan districts, along with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and these and other terrorist groups could use the visa program to infiltrate the US.

The new report from the Defense Department’s special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction paints a picture of chaos and instability throughout the country. Among the shocking findings:

* The number of terrorist attacks and other security incidents throughout 2016 and continuing into the first quarter of 2017 reached their highest level on record.

* Casualties suffered by Afghan security forces “in the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents continue to be shockingly high,” with 807 killed and 1,328 wounded in just the first six weeks of this year.

* Conflict-related civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose to 11,418 in 2016 – the highest on record.

* A whopping 660,639 people in Afghanistan fled their homes due to conflict in 2016 – a 40 percent jump over 2015 and the highest number of displacements on record.

* The Afghan government now controls barely 60 percent of the country’s 407 districts, while the Taliban and other insurgents control or threaten to control the rest.

“Preventing insurgents from increasing their control or influence of districts continues to be a challenge” for the Afghan government, the report warned, noting that Kabul’s control of the country has dropped from 72 percent in November 2015 to just under 60 percent today.

“Afghanistan remains in the grip of a deadly war,” inspector general John Sopko said, and one that has seen insurgents gaining more and more territory over the past 18 months.

The 2,500 special visas for Afghan refugees, championed by Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, were stuffed into the compromise spending bill and are up for consideration on the Hill this week.

US visas issued annually to Afghans nearly doubled under the Obama administration, soaring from 2,454 in 2008 to 4,156 in 2015, the latest year for which data are kept.

Experts say the number of Afghan refugees recently resettled in the US is on the rise.

“I’ve noticed an uptick,” Refugee Resettlement Watch director Ann G. Corcoran said. “The number is increasing.”

Few in Washington are raising alarms about this largely uncontrolled influx of new Afghan immigrants, but the security risk compounds the risk posed by Syrian refugees.

Though their numbers are relatively small next to the projected flood of Syrians, experts fear the Afghan immigrants could include jihadists who decide to lash out at their generous Western host — as they have in Germany, which is deporting 12,000 Afghan refugees after some carried out terrorist attacks there.

Several recent Afghan immigrants have already been busted for terrorism in America, including: Afghan refugee Hayatulla Dawari, who got as far as naturalization before authorities learned of his involvement with an Afghan terror group and convicted him in 2014; and Afghan refugee Sohiel Omar Kabir, who was sentenced in 2015 to 25 years in federal prison for providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill Americans.

Afghan immigration, moreover, factors into recent “homegrown” terrorism, including the Orlando, Fla., and Chelsea, N.Y., attacks.

Assurances that Afghan refugees will be vetted for security risks and monitored while in America are not comforting. The Pentagon can’t even keep track of the Afghans it brings here for military training exercises designed to help them go back and defend their own country.

Alarmingly, at least 45 Afghan soldiers have disappeared in the US over the past two years while training at military installations. Many of these AWOL immigrants, who also came here on special visas, have extensive training in weapons and explosives.

Further raising security alarms, the Taliban has infiltrated the Afghan security forces supplying these special immigrants. The Pentagon inspector general says the penetration is so deep that the Taliban are obtaining much of their weapons and ammunition, as well as gasoline, from US-supplied Afghan soldiers.

“Taliban commanders give instructions to their forces to buy weapons, ammunition and fuel from the Afghan army and police,” according to the Pentagon report.

Afghanistan is conspicuously absent from the list of seven terror-prone countries in President Trump’s indefinite immigration ban, even though al-Qaeda has reopened terrorist training camps there and ISIS is operating in several districts.

The Pentagon reveals that no fewer than 20 terrorist groups, including ISIS, are now operating in Afghanistan, mostly along the Pakistan border.

“This is the highest concentration of terrorist groups anywhere in the world,” it says.

The department also notes that “the Taliban and other insurgents have gained territory over the past two years,” as Obama hastily withdrew US troops, and now threaten to control more than 40 percent of the country.

Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of the bestsellers “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.” Follow him on Twitter: @paulsperry_