Washington: Al-Qaeda can regenerate in border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan while the Islamic State is emerging as a competitor to some of the existing terror groups in the war-torn country, the CIA has warned.
"We're concerned that Al-Qaeda can regenerate in that Afghan-Pak border region, which is why we need to maintain the intelligence collection as well as working with our Afghan and Pakistan partners," CIA Director John Brennan told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence early this week.
There are about 100 or so Al-Qaeda members in the eastern parts of Afghanistan. The Al-Qaeda leaders there have joined hands with some of the other militant organisations in the area, including the Taliban, he said.
"So they continue to apply their trade on the ground inside Afghanistan," Brennan said.
Responding to a question from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Brennan said ISIS has been able to take advantage of some elements within the Taliban that have been disenchanted with the organisation.
"So Islamic State is seen as a threat certainly by Afghan officials when I've traveled over to Afghanistan just two months ago. One of the real concerns they had that Islamic State is planting the flag in different parts of Afghanistan and they are now being seen as a competitor to some of the existing militant and terrorist organisations there," he said.
"IS probably has several hundred members or so inside Afghanistan, I would estimate. And it is distributed. They have had some setbacks there as they have gone up against some of the other militant organisations. But it is a concern," he said.
"Just like we see these various franchises growing in places like Indonesia or Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, we see the same thing in South Asia," he added.