Retired sailor, U of M political science expert, talks about conditions in Afghanistan

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US Central Command said it bombed an “ISIS-K planner” – not directly related to Thursday’s attack.

Meanwhile, just four days away from a troop withdrawal deadline, several hundred Americans and many more Afghans are struggling to get out of the country.

The Pentagon says more than 5,400 people are inside the airport, waiting for flights.

“I don’t think we can really capture the chaos on the ground for these people as they go through several Taliban checkpoints to get to the airport, search to get to the airport, queue for get on planes, ”Hansen said.

The retired USMC infantry rifleman and deputy patrol leader says he’s most worried about an Afghan friend who worked in base security for a private contractor between 2010 and 2014, among thousands of people trying to leave.

“He was beaten by the Taliban last month for serving in the US military,” Hansen said. “He knows he’s on a list, and if he doesn’t leave the country, the Taliban will hunt him down and find him.”

The five-year Marine Corps veteran said the speed of the Taliban’s advance was shocking.

“It took us all by surprise to see a collapse that many expected to take months, if not years, to occur in a matter of days,” noted Hansen.

But how much of a surprise was that?

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to Kathleen Collins, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota who has studied Islam and politics in the Afghanistan region for years.

“We certainly received intelligence reports and those on the ground, I think, had a good idea of ​​what was really going on,” she said. “The Taliban have actually been advancing since 2016, gradually and slowly taking control of significant parts of the country. “

Collins says there has been intense fighting in many parts of Afghanistan for months, and Thursday’s suicide bombing is a sign that things could get worse.

“We are completely losing our intelligence and military bases in Afghanistan,” Collins explained. “So we don’t have a long-term regional presence to deal with the terrorist threat which, as we saw yesterday, is, of course, growing in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal.”

Collins and Hansen both believe the civilian population will suffer under the Taliban.

She is also concerned about women’s rights, whether they can go to school or work without fear.

But Collins’ biggest concern is the growing potential for civil war.

“We may find in the weeks or months to come that different factions will actually rearm and reorganize militarily to challenge the Taliban regime,” she said. “In which case, we’re going to see more bloodshed.”

Hansen fears that poverty, violence and crime will skyrocket.

Then there is the question of whether what he fought for in Afghanistan was worth it.

“I think within this community of post 9/11 vets, this is something we’re going to struggle with for the rest of our lives,” said Hansen. “You know the good and bad of these wars that have gone on for so long. It’s something we’re going to have to grapple with.”

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