President Joe Biden issued a terse warning to the ISIS-K terrorist group as he addressed the American people Thursday in the wake of the attacks outside the main gate at the Kabul Airport. The suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. soldiers and 90 Afghan civilians.
The president said with regard to the ongoing evacuation efforts, the U.S. “will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission.” He stated unequivocally that the evacuations will continue.
“I’ve been in constant contact with our senior military leaders, and I mean constant, around the clock, and our commanders on the ground throughout the day, they made it clear that we can and we must complete this mission and we will, and that’s what I’ve ordered them to do.”
He also said ISIS-K will face retribution for the bloody attack.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people will every measure at my command.”
Biden said he has ordered military commanders to come up with strategies to strike back at ISIS-K by targeting leadership and facilities. “We will respond with force and precision in our time, in a place we choose in a manner of our choosing,” Biden said. “America will not be intimidated.”
President Biden also appeared to leave the door open for sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to provide more security before the August 31 deadline. Biden said he is ready to give his military advisors “additional force,” if they determine they need it.
During an exchange with a reporter from Fox News who asked if he bore responsibility for the lives lost today in Kabul, President Biden responded by reminding that it was President Trump who made the deal with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan.
President Biden responds to Fox: "I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late. But here's the deal: You know, I wish you'd one day say these things, you know as well as I do, that the former president made a deal with the Taliban."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 26, 2021
When asked about a message for the Afghan civilians who are concerned they will not be airlifted out of Kabul, the president gave a pragmatic answer.
Biden: "I know of no conflict, as a student of history, no conflict when a war was ending one side was able to guarantee that everyone who wanted to be extracted from that country was able to get out."
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) August 26, 2021
At the very start of his televised remarks, the president addressed the families of the service members and Afghans who were killed during the attack. Speaking of himself and the First Lady, Mr. Biden said, “Our hearts ache like I’m sure all of you do as well, for all those Afghan families who lost loved ones including small children.”
He then asked for a moment of silence to honor those in and out of uniform who lost their lives in Kabul, for “giving the last full measure of devotion.”
"Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20 year war." And with that he concludes an extraordinary q and a session following his speech on today's attack and U.S. deaths in #Afghanistan.
— PETER MAER (@petermaer) August 26, 2021
More than 104,000 Americans and Afghan allies have been evacuated in 12 days – including 7,000 in recent hours.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 26, 2021