Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., told Newsmax on Tuesday that not only did Afghanistan veterans and strategic military insiders know al-Qaida was going to reconstitute its terrorist cells, but the Biden administration's unconditional withdrawal of U.S. forces has equipped terrorists with better weapons than ever.
That warning was a sticking point for leaders with Afghanistan's surrounding countries, including Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Mullin said on "The Chris Salcedo Show."
"They were so frustrated at us because — I'm paraphrasing — what they basically told me was: 'Hey, look, before you guys came in, we're fighting guys on donkeys, and at best in Toyota Tacomas: Now they had the latest and modern weapons that outpace ours; you made our region more unsafe, not safer,'" said Mullin, who is running for Senate in November. "So it's caused a tremendous amount of destabilization through there."
Mullin helped more than 300 U.S. citizens get out of Afghanistan after the withdrawal, and he is demanding oversight of that strategy, including the administration telling surrounding countries not to assist Americans in getting out of Afghanistan, according to Mullin.
"Unfortunately, the biggest challenge we had to honestly get Americans out wasn't the Taliban," Mullin said, calling it "firsthand knowledge." "We actually had a very uncomfortable, working relationship with the Taliban, meaning that we had agreed through their checkpoints how much we're going to pay to get every American out.
"But what was hard is when we got into the border of Pakistan, Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, especially, trying to get the Americans across that border that was very difficult."
Mullin recounted a "point blank" denial of assistance from John Mark Pommersheim, U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan — as ordered by the White House.
"Pommersheim told me point blank, 'Mr. Mullin, I'm sorry, but I was told not to assist you in any way by Washington,' and I almost fell over," Mullin said. "I said, 'Excuse me?'
"Our own embassy ambassador to Tajikistan, where we were trying to come into, was told by Washington, D.C., not to assist me in any way.
"So when we get this stuff declassified. I want to know why that was said. I want to know why they decided to pull out earlier."
Mullin said that everyone with insight and access to intelligence knew al-Qaida was going to reconstitute after Biden's withdrawal.
"We knew for a fact, all of us that have been to Afghanistan knew for a fact that al-Qaida was simply going to backfill," he said.
"What we knew for a fact is al-Qaida was going to use every opportunity they could to plot and plan to kill Americans. And what we saw was exactly this."
And not only is Afghanistan more well equipped, but U.S. war efforts there — in the longest continuous conflict in U.S. history — has left the U.S. behind the new threat of China and other richer nations, Mullin said.
"Well, keep in mind for the last 20 years we've been fighting a war on terror, and the weaponry to fight the war on terror is quite different than a conventional war," he said. "A conventional war would be like if we went to war with China or went to war with Russia. So for 20 years we have been focused heavily inside the DOD to develop weapons to combat the war on terror.
"So when we ended the war on terror and we started focusing back on China, we found that we're behind on a lot of technology. And we're probably two years or three years to be actually caught up.
"Now that doesn't mean we're not making great strides. We are making unbelievable strides, and once we get the full might of the American military behind us and focused on getting our conventional war system back up and running, it is remarkable what we're able to do.
"The problem we have right now is that we're behind on the conventional weapons that we need."
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