Why are we in Afghanistan?

What was the reason again? To fight al-Qaeda?

There are only 100 al-Qaeda fighters left in Afghanistan, so why do our leaders continue to pretend this is a counter-terrorism struggle, in need of hundreds of thousands of foreign forces?

From ABC News:

A senior US intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al-Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the defence department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.

But here's the key bit:

At a Senate hearing, the former CIA Pakistan station chief Bob Grenier testified al-Qaeda had already been defeated in Afghanistan.

"So in terms of in Afghanistan," asked Sen John Kerry, D-Mass, "they have been disrupted and dismantled and defeated. They're not in Afghanistan, correct?"

"That's true," replied Grenier.

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.