INFAMOUS terror group al-Qaeda is planning major attacks against the West from its newly recaptured base in Afghanistan, experts warn.
The violent extremists had fled the country, taking up residence in rural Pakistan – but they have now reclaimed their stronghold after allied troops left the country in 2014.
Security officials are now claiming the jihadis are using their old stomping ground to plan atrocities against Western nations.
A senior Afghan defence official warned: “al-Qaeda has taken advantage of the withdrawal of Western troops to re-establish its headquarters in southern Afghanistan.
“Now they are back they will be determined to use Afghanistan as a base to prepare new attacks against Western targets."
The return of al-Qaeda to southern Afghanistan is a major embarrassment for the British and American governments, who have now seen the region they spent a decade fighting for simply handed over to the terrorist group.
In total, 456 British military personnel were killed in Afghanistan and an army colonel has said the Government's decision to withdraw troops from the region was "a grave misjudgement".
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British commander in Afghanistan, said: "The return of al-Qaeda to southern Afghanistan is deeply embarrassing for the governments of American and Britain.
“Al-Qaeda has been desperate to get back into Afghanistan ever since they were ejected after 9/11. Now they are back they will be desperate to launch a high profile attack against the West."
It is thought the terror group’s re-emergence around the Kandahar region signals its intentions to wage war with Western nations.
A senior Afghan defence official said: "Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of the withdrawal of Western troops to re-establish its headquarters in southern Afghanistan.
"Now they are back they will be determined to use Afghanistan as a base to prepare new attacks against Western targets."
Al-Qaeda's return comes as the Taliban's leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was wiped-out in a US-led drone attack yesterday while in southern Pakistan.
Pakistan denounced the strike, claiming it was a violation of their sovereignty, something that is expected to trigger a battle for supremacy in the already fractious region.
As well as the base in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda is now thought to have roughly 150 terrorists based in Syria.
It has also been working hard to build a reputation in Yemen, where its spin-off group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was overjoyed at the decision by Iran to release four detained jihadis in order to secure the safe release of an Iranian diplomat.