US officials gave Taliban list of Afghan allies to be evacuated but now fear will be murdered

Donald Trump slammed the Biden administration for handing over a list of approved Afghan evacuees to the Taliban amid fears it will now be used by the extremist group to kill those named on it.  

Hannity asked the former president for his reaction to the so-called ‘kill list’, branding it a ‘death sentence’ and reporting that ‘the Taliban is has already been going door to door’.

Trump said: ‘Now we’re giving lists of Americans to the Taliban so now you just knock on the door and grab them and take them out… What you are watching now is only going to get worse, it can only go one way.’

He also called the Biden administration ‘stupid’ for handing over the list of names so naively and said he feels ‘very very badly’ for the Americans and Afghan allies whose names are on it.

‘I think they are in great danger… whether it’s interpreters or others, they were very loyal to our country,’ he added.

Biden did not deny that the names of collaborators had been handed over to the Taliban, telling a press conference on Thursday he was unaware of the list’s existence – but said it was indeed possible that such a document existed. 

The list gives the identity of U.S. citizens, green card holders and Afghans granted visas for working with the U.S. army, Politico reported on Thursday.

It was handed to the Taliban after the fall of Kabul on August 15. The Taliban is controlling the area around Kabul airport, and dictating who can and cannot enter.

That list was intended to help people get through the gates – but it is now feared it could be used by the Taliban as a list of its enemies to be wiped out.  

As the chaos around the airport mounted, the State Department on August 25 began telling Afghans hoping to leave the country not to come, and to wait for answers instead. After August 25, Afghan names were not on the list, Politico reported. 

Yet for 10 days the Taliban were being handed documents detailing those who had worked with the U.S. 

Joe Biden on Thursday was asked about a possible 'kill list' of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies, handed over to the Taliban. The list was designed to inform the Taliban who to let through to Kabul airport for evacuation. Biden said he was unaware of a specific list, but it was indeed possible

Joe Biden on Thursday was asked about a possible ‘kill list’ of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies, handed over to the Taliban. The list was designed to inform the Taliban who to let through to Kabul airport for evacuation. Biden said he was unaware of a specific list, but it was indeed possible

The Taliban has, according to multiple reports, been going door-to-door and hunting down Afghans who worked with the Americans or the fallen government. 

Biden on Thursday said he was unaware of the details of the list – but said it was quite possible that it had been handed to the Taliban, with which the U.S. is cooperating during the evacuations.  

‘There have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through,’ he said. 

An Afghan translator, Josh Habib, far left, is seen working with U.S. Marines in July 2009 in Helmand province. The Taliban has reportedly been handed a list of names of Afghans like Habib who are trying to leave the country, and have been granted U.S. visas

An Afghan translator, Josh Habib, far left, is seen working with U.S. Marines in July 2009 in Helmand province. The Taliban has reportedly been handed a list of names of Afghans like Habib who are trying to leave the country, and have been granted U.S. visas 

Afghans are seen waving their paperwork at soldiers outside Kabul airport on Thursday

Afghans are seen waving their paperwork at soldiers outside Kabul airport on Thursday

‘So, yes there have been occasions like that. 

‘To the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred and they have been let through.’

Biden said that he was not aware of any specific list. 

‘I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names,’ he added. 

‘There may have been. But I know of no circumstance. 

‘It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, that here’s the names of 12 people, they’re coming, let them through. 

‘It could very well have happened.’ 

Biden on Thursday spoke from the White House to address the deaths of 12 U.S. service members earlier in the day, in Kabul. He insisted that withdrawing from Afghanistan was and is the right thing to do

Biden on Thursday spoke from the White House to address the deaths of 12 U.S. service members earlier in the day, in Kabul. He insisted that withdrawing from Afghanistan was and is the right thing to do

Taliban fighters are seen outside Kabul airport on August 19. They control the perimeter of the airport and are coordinating with U.S. officials to decide who can enter

Taliban fighters are seen outside Kabul airport on August 19. They control the perimeter of the airport and are coordinating with U.S. officials to decide who can enter

Biden and his team have frequently emphasized since the August 15 fall of Kabul that the Taliban want the Americans to leave, and so are acting in their self-interest to speed the evacuation.

They have also emphasized that the Taliban cannot be trusted and, despite coordinating with U.S. military for the evacuations, should not be considered allies.

Defense officials told Politico they were astonished that the list of names was handed over to the terror group.

‘Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,’ said one defense official. 

‘It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.’  

Taliban fighters are pictured in central Kabul on August 19

Taliban fighters are pictured in central Kabul on August 19

Biden officials, in a classified briefing on Capitol Hill this week, reported by Politico, said that the list was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and prevent a shooting war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of U.S. troops stationed at the airport. 

‘They had to do that because of the security situation the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,’ one U.S. official said.

But after thousands of visa applicants arrived at the airport, overwhelming the capacity of the U.S. to process them, the State Department changed course and recommended that applicants do not come to the airport.

From then on, the list fed to the Taliban didn’t include those Afghan names, Politico reported. 

As of August 25, only U.S. passport and green card holders were being accepted as eligible for evacuation. 

Bob Menendez, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared to criticize the Biden administration’s strategy of coordinating with the Taliban, writing in a statement: ‘As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security.’ 

Biden on Thursday suggested that the Taliban could even help evacuate American citizens left behind after the August 31 deadline – despite the Taliban currently holding a U.S. citizen hostage. 

Mark Frerichs, a civil engineer from Illinois, had lived in Kabul for a decade, working on various development projects, when he was abducted in January 2020 in the capital city, according to U.S. officials. 

His captors soon turned him over to the Haqqani network, one of the more brutal groups working under the Taliban umbrella. 

Yet Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, head of U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan, have referred to the Taliban in written documents as ‘our Afghan partners,’ according to two defense officials. 

And Biden told Thursday’s press conference: ‘We’re going to be in a circumstance where there will be, I believe, numerous opportunities to continue to provide access for additional persons to get out of Afghanistan, either through means that we provide and/or are provided through cooperation with the Taliban. 

He did not say how the Taliban could help evacuate Americans after August 31, but suggested that the threat of sanctions, pariah status and economic collapse could be leveraged.

‘They’re not good guys, the Taliban. I’m not suggesting that at all,’ he said.

‘But they have a keen interest. 

‘As many of you have been reporting, they very much would like to figure out how to keep the airport open. They don’t have the capacity to do it. 

‘They very much are trying to figure out whether or not they can maintain what is the portion of an economy that has become not robust, but fundamentally different than it had been.

‘And so there’s a lot of reasons why they have reached out not just to us, but to others, as to why it would be continued in their interest to get more of the personnel we want to get out.’ 

Full transcript of Joe Biden’s statement of Kabul suicide bombing and answers he gave to reporters’ questions

 By Melissa Koenig for DailyMail.com

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Been a tough day. This evening in Kabul, as you all know, terrorists attacked – that we’ve been talking about and worried about, that the intelligence community has assessed [was] undertaken – an attack – by a group known as ISIS-K – took the lives of American service members standing guard at the airport, and wounded several others seriously. 

They also wounded a number of civilians, and civilians were killed as well. 

I’ve been engaged all day, and in constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington, the Pentagon, as well as in Afghanistan and Doha. And my commanders here in Washington and in the field have been on this with great detail, and you’ve had a chance to speak to some, so far. 

The situation on the ground is still evolving, and I’m constantly being updated. 

These American service members who gave their lives – it’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate – they were heroes. Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. 

They were part of an airlift, an evacuation effort unlike any seen in history, with more than 100,000 American citizens, American partners, Afghans who helped us, and others taken to safety in the last 11 days. Just in the last 12 hours or so, another 7,000 have gotten out.  

They were part of the bravest, most capable, and the most selfless military on the face of the Earth. And they were part of, simply, what I call the ‘backbone of America.’ They’re the spine of America, the best the country has to offer. 

In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombing

In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombing

Jill and I – our hearts ache, like I’m sure all of you do as well, for all those Afghan families who have lost loved ones, including small children, or been wounded in this vicious attack. And we’re outraged as well as heartbroken. 

Being the father of an Army major who served for a year in Iraq and, before that, was in Kosovo as a U.S. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war – when he came home after a year in Iraq, he was diagnosed, like many, many coming home, with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain – who we lost. 

We have some sense, like many of you do, what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. You get this feeling like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest; there’s no way out. My heart aches for you. 

But I know this: We have a continuing obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you – the families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary; it lasts forever. 

The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, in the service of others, in the service of America. Like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism of – the fallen this day, they’re part of a great and noble company of American heroes. 

To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: 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 with every measure at my command. 

Over the past few weeks – I know you’re – many of you are probably tired of hearing me say it – we’ve been made aware by our intelligence community that the ISIS-K – an arch-enemy of the Taliban; people who were freed when both those prisons were opened – has been planning a complex set of attacks on the United States personnel and others. 

This is why, from the outset, I’ve repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why I have been so determined to limit the duration of this mission. And as General McKenzie said, this is why our mission was designed — this is the way it was designed to operate: operate under severe stress and attack. We’ve known that from the beginning. 

And as I’ve been in constant contact with our senior military leaders – and I mean constant, around the clock – and our commanders on the ground and 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. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.

I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose, and the moment of our choosing. Here is what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans who are there. We will get out our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.

I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives and get Americans, our partners, our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan. Every day when I talk to our commanders, I ask them what they need – what more do they need, if anything, to get the job done. As they will tell you, I granted every request. I reiterated to them again today, on three occasions, that they should take the maximum steps necessary to protect our forces on the ground in Kabul. 

And I also want to thank the Secretary of Defense and the military leadership at the Pentagon, and all the commanders in the field. There has been complete unanimity from every commander on the objectives of this mission and the best way to achieve those objectives. 

Those who have served through the ages have drawn inspiration from the Book of Isaiah, when the Lord says, ‘Whom shall I send…who shall go for us?’ And the American military has been answering for a long time: ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me.’ ‘Here I am. Send me.’ Each one of these women and men of our armed forces are the heirs of that tradition of sacrifice of volunteering to go into harm’s way, to risk everything – not for glory, not for profit, but to defend what we love and the people we love. 

And I ask that you join me now in a moment of silence for all those in uniform and out uniform – military and civilian, who have given the last full measure of devotion.

(A moment of silence is taken.) 

BIDEN: Thank you. May God bless you all. And may God protect those troops and all those standing watch for America. We have so much to do. It’s within our capacity to do it. We just have to remain steadfast. Steadfast. We will complete our mission. And we will continue, after our troops have withdrawn, to find means by which we defined any American who wishes to get out of Afghanistan. We will find them and we will get them out. 

Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC. 

QUESTION: Mr. President, you have said leaving Afghanistan is in the national interest of the United States. After today’s attack, do you believe you will authorize additional forces to respond to that attack inside Afghanistan? And are you – are you prepared to add additional forces to protect those Americans who remain on the ground carrying out the evacuation operation? 

BIDEN: I’ve instructed the military, whatever they need – if they need additional force – I will grant it. 

But the military – from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Chiefs, the commanders in the field – have all contacted me one way or another, usually by letter, saying they subscribe to the mission as designed to get as many people out as we can within the timeframe that is allotted. 

That is the best way, they believe, to get as many Americans out as possible, and others. And with regard to finding, tracking down the ISIS leaders who ordered this, we have some reason to believe we know who they are – not certain – and we will find ways of our choosing, without large military operations, to get them.

O’DONNELL: Inside Afghanistan, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Wherever they are. Trevor from Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. There has been some criticism, even from people in your party, about the dependence on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of the airport. Do you feel like there was a mistake made in that regard? 

BIDEN: No, I don’t. Look, I think General McKenzie handled this question very well. The fact is that we’re in a situation – we inherited a situation, particularly since, as we all know, that the Afghan military collapsed 11 days before – in 11 days – that it is in the interest of, as Mackenzie said, in the interest of the Taliban that, in fact, ISIS-K does not metastasize beyond what it is, number one. And number two, it’s in their interest that we are able to leave on time, on target. 

As a consequence of that, the major things we’ve asked them – moving back the perimeter; give me more space between the wall; stopping vehicles from coming through, et cetera; searching people coming through – it is not what you’d call a tightly commanded, regimented operation like the U.S. is – the military is – but they’re acting in their interest — their interest. 

And so, by and large – and I’ve asked this same question to military on the ground, whether or not it’s a useful exercise. No one trusts them; we’re just counting on their self-interest to continue to generate their activities. 

And it’s in their self-interest that we leave when we said and that we get as many people out as we can. And like I said, even in the midst of everything that happened today, over 7,000 people have gotten out; over 5,000 Americans overall. 

So, it’s not a matter of trust, it’s a matter of mutual self-interest. And – but there is no evidence thus far that I’ve been given, as a consequence by any of our commanders in the field, that there has been collusion between the Taliban and ISIS in carrying out what happened today both in front of the hotel and what is expected to continue for – beyond today. Aamer, Associated Press. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You have spoken again powerfully about your own son and the weight of these decisions. With that in mind – and also what you’ve said: that the longer we stay, the more likelihood that there would be a major attack – how do you weigh staying even one more day, considering what’s happened? 

BIDEN: Because I think what America says matters. What we say we’re going to do and the context in which we say we’re going to do it, that we do it – unless something exceptional changes. 

There are additional American citizens, there are additional green card holders, there are additional personnel of our allies, there are additional SIV card holders, there are additional Afghans that have helped us, and there are additional groups of individuals that have contacted us from women’s groups, to NGOs, and others, who have expressly indicated they want to get out and have gathered in certain circumstances in groups, on buses and other means, that still presents the opportunity for the next several days, between now and the 31st, to be able to get them out. And our military – and, I believe, to the extent that we can do that knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack – the military has concluded that’s what we should do. I think they’re right. I think they’re correct.

And after that, we’re going to be in a circumstance where there are – will be, I believe, numerous opportunities to continue to provide access for additional persons to get out of Afghanistan, either through means that we provide and/or are provided through cooperation with the Taliban.

They’re not good guys, the Taliban. I’m not suggesting that at all. But they have a keen interest. 

As many of you have been reporting, they very much would like to figure out how to keep the airport open. They don’t have the capacity to do it. They very much are trying to figure out whether or not they can maintain what is the portion of an economy that has become not robust, but fundamentally different than it had been.

And so there’s a lot of reasons why they have reached out not just to us, but to others, as to why it would be continued in their interest to get more of the personnel we want to get out. We can locate them. Now, there’s not many left that we can assess that are – want to come out. There’s some Americans we’ve identified – we’ve contacted the vast majority of them, if not all of them – who don’t want to leave because they have sig- — they’re dual nationals, they have extended families, et cetera. And there’s others who are looking for the time. So, that’s why we continue.

 I’ll take a few more questions, and – but, you, sir. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. 

BIDEN: I didn’t pick you, but that’s okay. 

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you – you say that ‘what America says matters.’ What do you say to the Afghans who helped troops, who may not be able to get out by August 31st? What –

BIDEN: I say –

QUESTION: What do you say to them? 

BIDEN: – we’re going to continue to try to get you out. It matters. Look, I know of no conflict, as a student of history – no conflict where, when a war was ending, one side was able to guarantee that everyone that wanted to be extracted from that country would get out. 

And think about it, folks. I think it’s important for – I know the American people get this in their gut. There are, I would argue, millions of Afghani citizens who are not Taliban; who did not actively cooperate with us as SIVs; who, if given a chance, they’d be onboard a plane tomorrow. 

It sounds ridiculous, but the vast majority of people in communities like that want to come to America, given a choice. So, getting every single person out is – can’t be guaranteed to anybody because there’s a determination, all who wants to get out as well. At any rate, it’s a process. I was really pointing to you, but – you, sir. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. There are reports that U.S. officials provided the Taliban with names of Americans and Afghan officials to evacuate. Were you aware of that? Did that happen? And then, sir, did you personally reject a recommendation to hold, or to recapture Bagram Air Force Base? 

BIDEN: Here’s what I’ve done on the – ask this – I’ll answer the last question, first. On the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or a war, I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan – the commanders, as well as the Pentagon. And I ask for their best military judgment: what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission. They concluded – the military – that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so, I followed that recommendation. 

With regard to– there are certain circumstances where we’ve gotten information – and quite frankly, sometimes from some of you – saying, ‘You know of such and such a group of people who are trying to get out and they’re on a bus, they’re moving…’ – from other people – ‘and this is their location.’ And there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, ‘This…’ — for example, ‘This bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.’ So, yes, there have been occasions like that. And to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred — they’ve been let through. 

But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. I don’t – there may have been, but I know of no circumstance. It doesn’t mean it’s not – it didn’t exist, that, ‘Here’s the names of 12 people; they’re coming. Let them through.’ It could very well have happened. I’ll take one more question. 

QUESTION: Mr. President, can I –

QUESTION: Mr. President, right here. Mr. President – 

BIDEN: Whoa. Wait, wait, wait. Let me take the one question from the most interesting guy that I know in the press. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Is that – is there -thank you. 

BIDEN: That’s you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, there had not been a U.S. service member killed in combat in Afghanistan since February of 2020. You set a deadline. You pulled troops out. You sent troops back in. And now 12 Marines are dead. You said the buck stops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks? 

BIDEN: 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 that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1. In return, the commitment was made – and that was a year before – in return, he was given a commitment that the Taliban would continue to attack others, but would not attack any American forces. Remember that? I’m being serious. 

QUESTION: Mr. President –

BIDEN: No, I – I’m asking you a question. Be a – because before I –

QUESTION: Donald Trump is not the President right now. 

BIDEN: No, no – now wait a minute. I’m asking you a question. Is that – is that accurate, to the best of your knowledge?

QUESTION: I know what you’re talking about. But, Mr. President, respectfully –

BIDEN: What? 

QUESTION: Since -I don’t think that the issue that — do you think that people have an issue with pulling out of Afghanistan, or just the way that things have happened? 

BIDEN: I think they have an issue that people are likely to get hurt – some, as we’ve seen, have gotten killed – and that it is messy. The reason why – whether my friend will acknowledge it and was – reported it – the reason why there were no attacks on Americans, as you said, from the date until I came into office, was because the commitment was made by President Trump: ‘I will be out by May 1st. In the meantime, you agree not to attack any Americans.’ That was the deal. That’s why no American was attacked. 

QUESTION: And you said that you still – a few days ago, you said you squarely stand by your decision to pull out. 

BIDEN: Yes, I do. Because look at it this way, folks – and I’m going to – I have another meeting, for real. But imagine where we’d be if I had indicated, on May the 1st, I was not going to renegotiate an evacuation date; we were going to stay there. I’d have only one alternative: Pour thousands of more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won, relative – is why the reason we went in the first place. 

I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan – a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country, and is made up – and I don’t mean this in a derogatory – made up of different tribes who have never, ever, ever gotten along with one another. 

And so, as I said before – and this is the last comment I’ll make, but we’ll have more chance to talk about this, unfortunately, beyond, because we’re not out yet – if Osama bin Laden, as well as al Qaeda, had chosen to launch an attack – when they left Saudi Arabia – out of Yemen, would we have ever gone to Afghanistan? Even though the Taliban completely controlled Afghanistan at the time, would we have ever gone? 

I know it’s not fair to ask you questions. It’s rhetorical. But raise your hand if you think we should have gone and given up thousands of lives and tens of thousands of wounded. 

Our interest in going was to prevent al Qaeda from reemerging – first to get bin Laden, wipe out al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and prevent that from happening again. 

As I’ve said 100 times: Terrorism has metastasized around the world; we have greater threats coming out of other countries a heck of a lot closer to the United States. We don’t have military encampments there; we don’t keep people there. We have over-the-horizon capability to keep them from going after us. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war. Thank you so much. 

President Joe Biden promised on Thursday to hunt down and destroy the ISIS-K terrorists who killed 13 American service personnel and dozens of Afghans in a double suicide attack on Kabul airport.

He paid tribute to the ‘selfless heroes’ who died helping vulnerable people to safety, but delivered a stern warning to the Islamic state offshoot behind the blasts that killed 11 U.S. Marines, a Navy medic and another service member screening evacuees at the airport gates.

The two locations targeted in the bombings were the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where US troops were screening Afghans for evacuation, and the nearby Baron Hotel, where thousands including Afghans, Britons and Americans, were told to gather in recent days before heading to the airport for evacuation. 

The Pentagon warned there is still an imminent threat of attack at the airport and have now been told to draw up strike plans to hit ISIS-K assets and leadership.

‘For those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive, we will not forget,’ Biden said in an address at the White House. ‘We will hunt you down and make you pay.’

Biden spoke to the nation Thursday and took questions from the press after a day of consulting with his national security team and senior generals, while Republicans said he had ‘blood on his hands’ and demanded he resign or be impeached.

He admitted that he must take responsibility for everything that has happened in Afghanistan since deciding to withdraw – including the deaths of 13 service members – but stood by his decision to leave by August 31 and insisted the military timeline wouldn’t change. 

‘Let me take the one question from the most interesting guy I know in the press,’ Biden said, directing his final question of his briefing to Fox News’ Peter Doocy.

‘You set a deadline, you pulled troops out, you sent troops back in and now 12 Marines are dead,’ Doocy said in a press conference before the latest confirmed service member death.

‘You said the buck stops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things unfolded in the last two weeks?’ he asked

‘I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that’s happened of late,’ he said, before saying he had inherited a commitment to leave Afghanistan from the previous administration.

‘Here’s the deal, you know … as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1.’ 

Biden revealed that he already asked his commanders for plans to strike back at the Afghan Islamic State offshoot that was responsible for the attack.

‘I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities,’ he said.

‘We will respond with force and precision at the place we choose and a moment of our choosing.’ 

President Biden promised to hunt down and destroy the ISIS-K terrorists who were behind the double suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday, during an at-times emotional address in the East Room of the White House

President Biden promised to hunt down and destroy the ISIS-K terrorists who were behind the double suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday, during an at-time emotional address in the East Room of the White House

The White House tore up Biden's schedule, postponing his first meeting with the new Israeli prime minister, so he could huddle with his national security team and get the latest assessments from Kabul before delivering an address a little after the scheduled 5pm start time

The White House tore up Biden’s schedule, postponing his first meeting with the new Israeli prime minister, so he could huddle with his national security team and get the latest assessments from Kabul before delivering an address a little after the scheduled 5pm start time

Wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after a deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover

Wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after a deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover

The blast was outside The Baron Hotel, at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport. Westerners were staying in the hotel before their evacuation flights

The blast was outside The Baron Hotel, at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport. Westerners were staying in the hotel before their evacuation flights

The Pentagon first publicly confirmed the blasts shortly after 6pm Kabul time on Thursday, and later confirmed a staggering US military death toll that is the highest in one day in Afghanistan since 2011.

General Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said that the attack on the Abbey Gate unfolded after at least one suicide bomber was able to get through initial Taliban screening points.

The Taliban maintains an outer perimeter around the airport, and is supposed to screen Afghans before they reach US-manned checkpoints. McKenzie speculated that the bomber may have slipped through due to incompetence among the Taliban militants.

As Marines were conducting a pat-down at a secondary checkpoint, the apparent suicide bomb detonated, creating scenes of carnage that were shared on social video.

Biden puts his head in his hands during an exchange with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy while taking questions

Biden puts his head in his hands during an exchange with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy while taking questions 

The bomb at the Abbey Gate struck people standing knee-deep in a wastewater canal under the sweltering sun, throwing bodies into the fetid water.

The filthy canal was filled with bloodsoaked corpses, some being fished out and laid in heaps on the canal side while wailing civilians searched for loved ones.

Those who moments earlier had hoped to get on flights out could be seen carrying the wounded to ambulances in a daze, their own clothes darkened with blood.

Biden has been under intense pressure to justify his decision to withdraw by August 31, after the way in which the Taliban raced across the country and captured the capital. That pressure reached fever pitch on Thursday as Republicans called for Biden’s resignation or impeachment.

Administration officials have been forced to negotiate with Kabul’s new rulers in order to ensure Westerners and vulnerable Afghans could reach the airport.  

Warnings had grown in recent days that ISIS-K was planning a major attack. Other nations suspended their evacuation work and began flying their last remaining staff and military personnel out of the country.

But Biden said the U.S. would continue with the operation to rescue another 1000 Americans believed to still be in Kabul. 

‘We will not be deterred by terrorists,’ he said. ‘We’ll not let them stop our mission.’  

A bloodied patient was laying in the recovery unit at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital after being injured in the deadly explosions

A bloodied patient was laying in the recovery unit at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital after being injured in the deadly explosions

A wounded man walked out of an emergency room in Kabul bloodied and with an IV bag in hand

A wounded man walked out of an emergency room in Kabul bloodied and with an IV bag in hand

A man who was severely injured in the deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul laid in a hospital bed on August 26, 2021 waiting for professional care

A man who was severely injured in the deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul laid in a hospital bed on August 26, 2021 waiting for professional care

Criticism of his handling of the crisis mounted throughout the day as Biden remained out of sight. The White House did not issue a statement and the Secretary State and Secretary of Defense also failed to appear.

Biden began his speech with a tribute to the personnel who died, his voice cracking with emotion.

‘These American service members who gave their lives – it’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate – were heroes … heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others,’ he said.

‘They are part of an airlift, an evacuation effort unlike any seen in history.’

The White House announced soon after that flags would be flown at half staff from federal buildings. 

At least 60 Afghans also died on Thursday when the two bombs went off amid the desperate clamour to escape Kabul.  

The first bomber was being searched by troops when he detonated a suicide vest. The second was a car bomb attack. It’s unclear how the first bomber got through Taliban checkpoints and close enough to the Marines to kill them. 

The death toll is thought to be the highest in a single incident in Afghanistan since 30 died when a helicopter was shot down in 2011. 

In a statement, Islamic State claimed responsibility and said one of its suicide bombers had targeted ‘translators and collaborators with the American army.’

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of CentCom, promised that the evacuation effort would continue despite the growing threat from ISIS and said he would ‘go after’ those responsible for the blasts.

He said the US military had Apache attack helicopters, MQ-9 Reaper drones, F-15 fighters and AC-130 Gunships flying over Afghanistan and warned further attacks by the terrorists were imminent.

‘We expect these attacks to continue,’ General McKenzie said, saying he was particularly concerned about the risk of further car bomb attacks. 

Despite the danger, he said there was no alternative but to have troops continue to search people on the ground before they board flights, and that more than 100,000 had already been checked.  

One thousand Americans remain in Afghanistan but McKenzie said not all of them want to leave. He said his personnel would work to get those who do want to leave out, but that the operation was becoming increasingly difficult as the deadline approached.

Republicans stepped up their attacks on Biden. Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the UN, and others demanded he resign or be impeached for his handling of the the withdrawal.  

H.R McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said Thursday’s attack was ‘just the beginning.’   

In this frame grab from video, people attend to a wounded man near the site of a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021

A man injured in the Kabul terrorists attacks on Thursday arrives at hospital to be treated. Among those killed in the two bomb attacks were 11 US Marines and one Navy medic

A man injured in the Kabul terrorists attacks on Thursday arrives at hospital to be treated. Among those killed in the two bomb attacks were 11 US Marines and one Navy medic 

Medical staff bring an injured man to a hospital in an ambulance after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Medical staff bring an injured man to a hospital in an ambulance after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Horrifying footage from Kabul airport shows dozens of Afghans lying in blood after two ISIS suicide bombers attacked crowds who were hoping to flee the Taliban

Horrifying footage from Kabul airport shows dozens of Afghans lying in blood after two ISIS suicide bombers attacked crowds who were hoping to flee the Taliban

Wounded women arrive at a hospital for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Wounded women arrive at a hospital for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

In this frame grab from video, a medical worker attends to a person wounded in a deadly explosion at the Kabul airport, at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan

In this frame grab from video, a medical worker attends to a person wounded in a deadly explosion at the Kabul airport, at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday's sequence of attacks. A fighter is shown in a grab from the group's Telegram account, where they are allowed to operate

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s sequence of attacks. A fighter is shown in a grab from the group’s Telegram account, where they are allowed to operate

‘We are going to see horrible image after horrible image. 

‘We’re going to confront the steady drumbeat of horrors inflicted on the Afghan people. What are we going to do about it? 

‘Are we going to give a damn? Or is this going to be like Rwanda?’ McMaster told Yahoo News, referring to the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda.

‘I would not be surprised at all if ISIS-K — in fact, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the case — is being used by the Haqqani network as a cutout to attack us and humiliate us on our way out,’ he added. 

With the Taliban in charge of the city, there has not yet been any official death toll. Witnesses suggested as many as 60 Afghans had died. 

Norway, Poland, Holland and Canada have all stopped evacuating citizens. 

General McKenzie said the US would keep evacuating its citizens despite Thursday’s attack and despite an ‘imminent’ threat of more attacks.

The threat they are most concerned about is another car bomb, he said, but there is also intelligence to suggest ISIS wants to launch a rocket attack too. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, left, refused to take questions at a briefing on Thursday afternoon and instead let General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander on the ground, speak to reporters via Zoom

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, left, refused to take questions at a briefing on Thursday afternoon and instead let General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander on the ground, speak to reporters via Zoom 

Gen. McKenzie said the US would go after ISIS to retaliate if they can find the right groups. The threat of a suicide-born vehicle threat is ‘very high.’

He also said the US was working to determine how the suicide bomber got through, and that it may have been down to Taliban incompetence. 

He said there was no evidence the Taliban helped facilitate the attack. 

Among critics on Thursday as Trump's National Security Adviser, H.R McMaster, who said the attacks were 'just the beginning'

Among critics on Thursday as Trump’s National Security Adviser, H.R McMaster, who said the attacks were ‘just the beginning’ 

 ‘Clearly, if they get up to the Marines, there was a failure here.  The Taliban operate with varying degrees of competence – some of these guys are good and scrupulous, and some are not,’ he said.

General McKenzie is the only person from the government to speak to reporters about the fiasco. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken only tweeted about it. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement: ‘On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I express my deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and wounded in Kabul today.

‘Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others. We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief.

‘But we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand. To do anything less – especially now – would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan.’  

Republicans, outraged about the terrorist attacks in Kabul that left US personnel dead, accused President Biden of having ‘blood on his hands,’ as Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the US to take back control of Bagram airbase after reports of two explosions at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. 

‘I have advocated for days that the Bagram Air Base should be reopened as the Kabul airport is very difficult to defend and has been the only evacuation outlet,’ the South Carolina Republican wrote on Twitter. 

‘We have the capability to reestablish our presence at Bagram to continue to evacuate American citizens and our Afghan allies. The biggest mistake in this debacle is abandoning Bagram.’  

‘I urge the Biden Administration to reestablish our presence in Bagram as an alternative to the Kabul airport so that we do not leave our fellow citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind. It is not a capability problem, but a problem of will,’ Graham said. 

‘The retaking of Bagram would put our military at risk, but I think those involved in the operation would gladly accept that risk because it would restore our honor as a nation and save lives.’ 

Lawmakers were briefed on the situation this week by Biden’s national security team. 

Meanwhile, Democrat Foreign Affairs Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez, said:  ‘This is a full-fledged humanitarian crisis and US government personnel … must secure the airport.’

‘As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security.’

House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy  called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring back the House so that lawmakers can be briefed on the situation.

‘Today’s attacks are horrific. My prayers go out to those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. I also continue to pray for the safety of our troops, the stranded American citizens, our allies and Afghan partners who remain in the area. Our enemies have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the withdrawal,’ the California Republican said in a statement. 

‘It is time for Congress to act quickly to save lives. Speaker Pelosi must bring Congress back into session before August 31 so that we can be briefed thoroughly and comprehensively by the Biden Administration and pass Representative Gallagher’s legislation prohibiting the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan.’ 

Other lawmakers submitted an outpouring of prayers for American troops on the ground and Afghans on Twitter as they, along with the rest of the world, watch and wait to see how a series of attacks on Kabul airport unfold. 

Still others demanded a forceful response and called for ‘resignations’ out of the White House. Some warned the worst could be yet to come. 

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., reupped a call for Biden to resign. 

‘Biden Admin views abandoned people in Afghanistan as a political nuisance. Maybe looking at them as real people instead of ‘papers to push’ would produce rescues rather than deaths. It’s time for Biden to RESIGN NOW!!!’

‘Should Biden step down or be removed for his handling of Afghanistan? Yes,’ Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted. 

‘But that would leave us with Kamala Harris which would be ten times worse. God help us.’ 

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside the Baron Hotel, killing multiple people and injuring at least three US troops

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside the Baron Hotel, killing multiple people and injuring at least three US troops 

Scenes from the ground show injured Afghans being removed in wheelchairs.

Scenes from the ground show injured Afghans being removed in wheelchairs. Left, a view of the explosion on Thursday

Scenes from the ground show injured Afghans being removed in wheelchairs.

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport on Thursday night after two explosions and gunfire ripped through crowds

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport on Thursday night after two explosions and gunfire ripped through crowds

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport on Thursday night after two explosions and gunfire ripped through crowds 

Afghan people who want to leave the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021

Afghan people who want to leave the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021

‘My biggest fear is these attacks today are just the beginning of what we will continue to see as the Administration fails to get Americans and our Afghan allies out and to safety,’ Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter. ‘We don’t need statements from the Administration right now – we need immediate resignations.’ 

‘At what point does Afghanistan turn from ‘Biden’s Saigon’ to ‘Biden’s Tehran Moment?” questioned Rep. Ralph Norman, R-SC. The Iran hostage crisis from 1979-1981 was considered a major failure and contributor to President Jimmy Carter’s loss in his reelection bid.   

‘President @JoeBiden- you had one job. That job continues and American lives & security depend on it. Act like it,’ Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter. 

Despite the escalating violence, the US’s top diplomat made the astonishing claim on Thursday morning, before the explosion, that it was ‘relatively safe’ on the ground and people should still be able to make their way there. 

There is still no indication of when Biden may speak.  

A White House official told DailyMail.com on Thursday: ‘The President met with his national security team this morning, including Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, and commanders on the ground. 

‘He will continue to be briefed on updates on the evolving situation throughout the day.

‘There will be updates to the President’s schedule, which we will share as they become available.’

Earlier on Thursday, US troops on the ground closed gates at the airport and the State Department warned people not to congregate at the airport. Britain told its citizens to run for the Pakistan border instead.

The Taliban claimed Kabul on August 14 and there has been a frantic scramble to get Western citizens and Afghan allies out of the region by August 31, the Taliban’s ceasefire deadline.   

Injured Afghans are removed from Kabul airport in the Baron Hotel, next to the airport in Kabul, after a suicide bomb attack on Thursday evening

Injured Afghans are removed from Kabul airport in the Baron Hotel, next to the airport in Kabul, after a suicide bomb attack on Thursday evening 

A large explosion has ripped through crowds at Kabul airport's Abbey Gate, with reports of multiple casualties and the eruption of gunfire following the blast

A large explosion has ripped through crowds at Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate, with reports of multiple casualties and the eruption of gunfire following the blast 

ISIS K- THE CHILLING NEW FACE OF TERROR IN AFGHANSTAN

ISIS-K is one of six or seven regional offshoots of the Islamic State – the K stands for the Khorasan region, which historically encompasses parts of modern day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

ISIS-K was begun in 2014, as a splinter group from the Pakistani Taliban, and its original leaders were from Pakistan.

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial 'K') – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

In 2015 it was recognized by ISIS’s leaders in Iraq and Syria, and in January 2016 declared a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Its strongholds are eastern Afghanistan, straddling the border with Pakistan in Nangarhar province, and the north of Afghanistan. 

In 2018 the group was weakened in the north of Afghanistan, and in 2019 severely beaten back in the east. But in 2020 they regrouped and launched a series of devastating terror attacks. 

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia.

The terror group is now such a threat that fear of an attack by Isis-K is being used to justify the US’s refusal to delay its withdrawal from Kabul Airport after the August 31 deadline set by Joe Biden.

More recently, in May this year, ISIS-K killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Kabul.

The vast majority of the victims were young pupils the Islamist group regard as legitimate targets for the sin of being educated while being female.

The attack, which came after a period in which Western air strikes had killed thousands of the terror network’s supporters and at least three of its leaders, served as a bloody reminder of its ongoing ability to bring carnage to the streets of Afghanistan.

Before the blasts on Thursday, the Pentagon denied claims that the US was going to withdraw within 36 hours. 

Press Secretary John Kirby offered no date for when troops would leave, saying only they would stay in Afghanistan until the ‘end of the mission’. 

It offers little hope to the Americans on the ground who are stuck behind Taliban lines, unable to get to the airport.   

Overnight, 5,100 people were flown out of Kabul on US military planes. Another 8,300 were saved by coalition flights. 

The total – 13,400 – was drastically less than the 19,000 rescued in the previous 24 hours. 

Now, the flights that were already leaving half-empty, will 

Ross Wilson, the Acting US Ambassador in Afghanistan, said on Thursday his office was making ‘phone calls’ but that many Americans didn’t leave when they had the chance and are now on their own. 

‘We have through the State Department been placing phone calls to virtually all those who have registered with us to find out are they still in Afghanistan, are they interested in leaving Afghanistan, do they need help. 

‘People chose not to leave – that’s their business, that’s their right. We regret now that many may find themselves in a position that they would rather not be in,’ he told CBS This Morning on Thursday.  

Britain is now telling its citizens that anyone who hasn’t yet been able to get out should make a run for the border and seek refuge in Pakistan. 

Hameed Ullah, the head of the Coronavirus Health team at the Chaman border, said 18,000 people a day were crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan – 6,000 more than usual. 

Biden has promised to get every American out by August 31 but it is becoming increasingly unlikely with hundreds still scattered around the country. He is due to host a conference call with governors on Thursday at 3pm to determine where Afghan refugees will be housed.  

CNN’s source said on Thursday that 200 had been evacuated overnight, bringing the total 500 down significantly. 

The source estimated that of the 500 Blinken was talking about, there are now only 150 waiting to be evacuated. 

It remains unclear if any more citizens have been able to get in touch with the State Department since Blinken spoke. 

There are still 1,800 Afghans who worked at the US Embassy in Kabul and are waiting to be flown out but the mission is winding down on Friday, the source said.  

‘American citizens are still trickling in but their priority has shifted to local staff,’ the source said. 

The United States, Britain and Australia told their citizens in the early hours of Thursday to clear the airport over fears of a deadly car bomb blast. 

The US said that citizens outside three gates in particular should ‘leave immediately’, while Britain and Australia told anyone near the airport to clear the area entirely. 

Among those still stranded are dozens of students from a San Diego school, who flew to Afghanistan with relatives to visit family and got stuck. 

They did not all travel together but went with their families in smaller groups. One of the groups has now returned to the US, leaving 19 still stuck in Kabul. 

The bomb threat on Wednesday was given amid fears extremist group ISIS-K, the Islamic State branch based in Afghanistan, was plotting an attack with multiple car bombs by deploying recently-freed prisoners. 

A US soldier places a 'gate closed' on one of the crowded entrances of Kabul airport as hundreds of desperate Afghans wait to board flights earlier on Thursday The US is now working to evacuate everyone they can in the next 36 hours and will then withdraw - two days earlier than the Taliban's 31 deadline

A US soldier places a ‘gate closed’ on one of the crowded entrances of Kabul airport as hundreds of desperate Afghans wait to board flights earlier on Thursday The US is now working to evacuate everyone they can in the next 36 hours and will then withdraw – two days earlier than the Taliban’s 31 deadline 

Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday as the evacuation mission continues

Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday as the evacuation mission continues

Taliban fighters - one armed with a US standard issue M4 assault rifle - stand guard  outside Kabul airport on Wednesday

Taliban fighters – one armed with a US standard issue M4 assault rifle – stand guard  outside Kabul airport on Wednesday

USAF personnel help Afghan refugees to board a C-17 military transport jet at Kabul airport on Tuesday

USAF personnel help Afghan refugees to board a C-17 military transport jet at Kabul airport on Tuesday

It comes as the number of evacuation flights are falling rapidly after Biden held firm to the August 31 deadline. 

Ross Wilson, the Acting US Ambassador in Afghanistan, claimed in an interview on Thursday morning that it was still 'relatively safe' to go to the airport, despite the growing ISIS threat before the explosion

Ross Wilson, the Acting US Ambassador in Afghanistan, claimed in an interview on Thursday morning that it was still ‘relatively safe’ to go to the airport, despite the growing ISIS threat before the explosion

France said it will stop flying from Kabul on Friday, Poland has already left and Holland is expected to finish today. 

Meanwhile, Britain could stop flying by tonight. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Wednesday there were up to 1,500 Americans still trapped in Afghanistan and that 500 had been in touch with the government to ask for help getting to the airport. 

Since then, 350 have been evacuated, according to CNN, which leaves just 150 of the 500 the government knows about still waiting to be rescued.    

British armed forces minister James Heappey this morning warned there is ‘very credible reporting’ of an ‘imminent’ and ‘severe’ threat to the airport.

The former British Army Major told LBC radio he had been given ‘lines today for what might happen if the attack happened while I was doing this media round.’

Heappey added: ‘I don’t think everybody should be surprised by this, Daesh, or Islamic State, are guilty of all sorts of evil.

Troubling video showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country via the Pakistan border. The footage shows a huge crowd of people at Spin Boldak, a southern village on the border with Pakistan, queuing up at the border gates

Troubling video showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country via the Pakistan border. The footage shows a huge crowd of people at Spin Boldak, a southern village on the border with Pakistan, queuing up at the border gates

The State Department tweeted last night: ‘Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so. 

‘Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.’ 

‘We won’t get everyone out even by Sept 11’: Democrat and Republican lawmakers pay secret trip to Kabul 

Two US military vets who now serve as congressmen flew unannounced into Afghanistan to monitor the on going evacuation efforts as they called on President Joe Biden to extend the US withdrawal deadline past August 31. 

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, flew in and out of Kabul airport on Tuesday, with both men adding that they boarded return flights with empty seats so as not to take away space from fleeing Americans and Afghans. 

They appeared to condemn Joe Biden over his chaotic withdrawal from the war-torn country, and predicted the US would not be able to airlift everyone eligible to leave Afghanistan on time.  

 In a joint statement, they said: ‘It’s obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11.

‘Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.’

The order to leave the gates was issued at 3:30am local time in Kabul on Thursday morning. 

It came as a 345-seat evacuation flight organized by a Washington DC-based philanthropist left Kabul Airport almost empty because its intended passengers could not get past the Taliban.

The jet – laid on by George Abi-Habib, co-founder of development firm Sayara International, had just 50 of passengers in its cabin, amid fears terrorists are now plotting a car bomb attack against Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport. 

One of the passengers had to crawl through a sewage pipe just to make it into the airport, he told The Wall Street Journal. 

‘We can’t expect everyone to crawl through a sewer pipe to safety,’ Abi-Habib said.

Another of Abi-Habib’s 240-seat charter flights heading to Ukraine left with 70 seats empty after U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let passengers through to board the aircraft. 

‘It’s total chaos,’ said Warren Binford, a law professor at the University of Colorado who has been working on evacuation efforts. 

‘What’s happening is that we’re seeing a massive underground railroad operation where, instead of running for decades, it’s literally running for a matter of hours, or days.’

Thousands of people are still trying to leave Afghanistan as U.S. troops start leaving and evacuation flights begin to wrap up, but are being stopped and beaten by insurgents on their way.

Among those left are 23 school children from California Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents who visited the war zone on a summer trip to see extended family and haven’t been able to leave. 

Erik Prince, founder of controversial private military firm Blackwater, was selling seats on a plane out of Afghanistan for $6,500.  

The desperation to get on the last flights is already plain, with people standing in sewage up to their knees on the south side of the airport today while begging soldiers to let them inside.   

Many Afghans fear a repeat of the brutal five-year Taliban regime that was toppled in 2001, and violent retribution for working with foreign militaries, Western missions and the previous U.S.-backed government.

Washington and its allies have been flying out thousands of such Afghans every day on hulking military transports, but it has become an increasingly difficult and desperate task.

Speaking on Tuesday, Biden confirmed that in the past 12 hours, 19 U.S. military flights evacuated approximately 6,400 people and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul. 

A White House official told CNN yesterday that the number of Americans remaining in Afghanistan as of August 14 was ‘probably lower than most people believe’, but declined to confirm exactly how many remain in the country.

Though officials believe that thousands of Americans and their Allies remain in the Afghan capital, the New York Times reports. 

The Afghan capital’s airport has been gripped by chaos as US-led troops try to maintain a secure perimeter for evacuation flights, surrounded by desperate Afghans.

Some have foreign passports, visas or eligibility to travel, but most do not. At least eight people have died in the chaos.

‘Does anyone … ANYONE … have a contact inside the airport,’ pleaded one American on a WhatsApp group set up to share information on how people can access the airport.

‘My guy worked for us 2010-15 and needs to get out with 5 of his family. This is real bad.’

The Taliban have also been accused of blocking or slowing access for many trying to reach the airport, although they denied the charge again late Tuesday.

Biden said the Taliban were taking steps to assist, but there was also an ‘acute and growing risk’ of an attack by the regional chapter of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Speaking yesterday, the President said he had asked the Pentagon and the State Department to develop contingency plans to push past the deadline should that prove necessary.

The Democratic president, whose administration has been under fire for its handling of the pullout, said U.S. forces had now helped evacuate 87,900 people since Aug. 14.  

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, flew in and out of Kabul airport on Tuesday, with both men adding that they boarded return flights with empty seats so as not to take away space from fleeing Americans and Afghans.  

Afghanistan’s chilling new face of terror: ‘ISIS-K’ slaughter patients in their hospital beds, bomb girls schools… and see the Taliban as far too liberal. Their latest victory? Joe Biden is running scared of them, writes GUY ADAMS

Dressed in white coats and carrying stethoscopes, three young men walked unchallenged into Kabul’s 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital and made their way to the upper floors.

Then, outside the building, situated opposite the heavily fortified US Embassy, there was a loud bang.

The noise, from the detonating suicide vest of a comrade, acted as a signal for the trio to pull a selection of hand grenades and AK-47 assault rifles from beneath their medical clothing, before opening fire.

By the time the chaos had died down, several hours later, more than 30 doctors and patients had been killed and roughly 50 more wounded.

Further casualties included the three attackers, who were shot by Afghan special forces, plus the original suicide bomber, and a fifth member of the terror gang who had detonated a car bomb inside the hospital complex.

A former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan (middle) led ISIS-K until he was killed by a drone strike in 2016

A former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan (middle) led ISIS-K until he was killed by a drone strike in 2016

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial 'K') – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

Their brazen and pitiless attack, which unfolded in broad daylight one afternoon in March 2017, was carried out in the name of ISIS-K, a local branch of the notorious global terror network.

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia.

The terror group is now such a threat that fear of an attack by Isis-K is being used to justify the US’s refusal to delay its withdrawal from Kabul Airport after the August 31 deadline set by Joe Biden.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, the US President claimed: ‘Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.’

The White House seems to believe ISIS-K (who regard the Taliban as dangerous liberals) is about to organise a wave of attacks in an effort to destabilise its efforts to form a government.

If so, then any foreign troops, including soldiers from Britain’s 16 Air Assault Brigade currently guarding Kabul airport, would represent very high-profile targets indeed.

The organisation has already carried out roughly 100 attacks against civilian targets and another 250 involving US, Afghan or Pakistani security services, most of them chronicled via macabre mobile phone videos then gleefully broadcast via the internet.

One particularly vile film, circulated in June 2017, celebrated the work of a group of child recruits to ISIS-K known as the ‘cubs of the caliphates’.

The film showed two of them – both dressed in black and seemingly under 12 years of age – forcing terrified captives to kneel on the ground.

They proceeded to pull back the heads of the men (who were apparently accused of spying), rant at the camera and execute them via a single shot to the skull.

ISIS-K published this photo in an effort to project unity and strength just days before hundreds of fighters admitted defeat and surrendered

ISIS-K published this photo in an effort to project unity and strength just days before hundreds of fighters admitted defeat and surrendered

More recently, in May this year, ISIS-K killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Kabul.

The vast majority of the victims were young pupils the Islamist group regard as legitimate targets for the sin of being educated while being female.

The attack, which came after a period in which Western air strikes had killed thousands of the terror network’s supporters and at least three of its leaders, served as a bloody reminder of its ongoing ability to bring carnage to the streets of Afghanistan.

The very fact that a US President is admitting that his policy is being governed by a perceived threat from ISIS-K represents a major coup for a hitherto fairly low-profile organisation.

It first made headlines in January 2016, when the Pentagon announced that the group had been designated as a Foreign Terrorist organisation.

This made assisting them a criminal offence and allowed US troops on the ground to actively pursue members (under previous terms of engagement they usually had to wait until the group attacked them before responding)

The organisation’s chosen first Emir, or leader, was a former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan.

His foot-soldiers were largely people who had defected from the Taliban as was his canny PR chief, Sheikh Maqbool, who was charged with ensuring that the group’s grisly attacks gained worldwide attention.

They were appointed at the behest of ISIS’s (then) top dog Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was facing difficulties in his stomping grounds of Syria and Iraq, so began funnelling cash to Khan in order to establish a new stronghold in the East.

Initially, their activities were limited to suicide bombings and small arms attacks targeting civilians, along with the odd kidnapping, but that was enough to prompt close attention from the US, who succeeded in killing Khan via a drone strike in July 2016.

His successor Abdul Hasib masterminded the hospital attack mentioned above, and was famed for both ordering fighters to behead local elders in front of their families, and to kidnap women and girls so they could be forced to ‘marry’ his fighters, that is, become sex slaves.

He perished in a special forces raid on his compound in which two US troops died in April 2017.

Later that month, the US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal – a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) also known as the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ – on a key ISIS-K cave and tunnel system in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Around 100 of their troops perished.

A series of drone strikes then wiped out both of Hasib’s successors, Abu Sayed and Abu Saad Orakzai, and roughly 80 per cent of the group’s troops, reducing their estimated strength from between three and four thousand to under 800 followers by the end of 2018.

Yet like so many militant groups in the benighted history of Afghanistan, they have since proved almost impossible to eliminate completely.

The deaths of successive leaders have ended up being largely symbolic, since they have been quickly replaced by experienced peers shipped in from other ISIS strongholds.

New foot-soldiers have been recruited via slick propaganda videos outlining its global aspirations to create an Islamist caliphate across Asia, governed by Sharia law, before eventually ‘[raising] the banner of al-Uqab above Jerusalem and the White House. 

This ambition equates to the defeat of both Israel and the United States (and therefore the imposition of their twisted view of life on those countries).

The group’s current leader is believed to be Shahab al-Muhajir, also known as Sanaullah.

A United Nations report published in February said that he took over in June 2020.

The communiqué announcing the appointment, written in Arabic and translated into Pashto, referred to al-Muhajir as an experienced military leader and one of the ‘urban lions’ of ISIL-K in Kabul who had been ‘involved in guerrilla operations and the planning of suicide and complex attacks.’

While Sanaullah’s reign may be bad news for Afghans, he’s currently thought to have little to no capacity for mounting terror attacks in the West.

He is instead focusing on a mission to rid Afghanistan and other parts of its home territory of foreign ‘crusaders’ who ‘proselytize Muslims’ as well as ‘apostates’.

That in turn may explain why America is so anxious to withdraw from Kabul: once US troops are home, they are no longer in his organisation’s firing line.

For the Afghans left behind, escaping ISIS-K’s reign of terror will not be nearly so simple.  

Full transcript of Joe Biden’s statement of Kabul suicide bombing and answers he gave to reporters’ questions

 By Melissa Koenig for DailyMail.com

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Been a tough day. This evening in Kabul, as you all know, terrorists attacked – that we’ve been talking about and worried about, that the intelligence community has assessed [was] undertaken – an attack – by a group known as ISIS-K – took the lives of American service members standing guard at the airport, and wounded several others seriously. 

They also wounded a number of civilians, and civilians were killed as well. 

I’ve been engaged all day, and in constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington, the Pentagon, as well as in Afghanistan and Doha. And my commanders here in Washington and in the field have been on this with great detail, and you’ve had a chance to speak to some, so far. 

The situation on the ground is still evolving, and I’m constantly being updated. 

These American service members who gave their lives – it’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate – they were heroes. Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. 

They were part of an airlift, an evacuation effort unlike any seen in history, with more than 100,000 American citizens, American partners, Afghans who helped us, and others taken to safety in the last 11 days. Just in the last 12 hours or so, another 7,000 have gotten out.  

They were part of the bravest, most capable, and the most selfless military on the face of the Earth. And they were part of, simply, what I call the ‘backbone of America.’ They’re the spine of America, the best the country has to offer. 

In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombing

In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombing

Jill and I – our hearts ache, like I’m sure all of you do as well, for all those Afghan families who have lost loved ones, including small children, or been wounded in this vicious attack. And we’re outraged as well as heartbroken. 

Being the father of an Army major who served for a year in Iraq and, before that, was in Kosovo as a U.S. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war – when he came home after a year in Iraq, he was diagnosed, like many, many coming home, with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain – who we lost. 

We have some sense, like many of you do, what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. You get this feeling like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest; there’s no way out. My heart aches for you. 

But I know this: We have a continuing obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you – the families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary; it lasts forever. 

The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, in the service of others, in the service of America. Like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism of – the fallen this day, they’re part of a great and noble company of American heroes. 

To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: 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 with every measure at my command. 

Over the past few weeks – I know you’re – many of you are probably tired of hearing me say it – we’ve been made aware by our intelligence community that the ISIS-K – an arch-enemy of the Taliban; people who were freed when both those prisons were opened – has been planning a complex set of attacks on the United States personnel and others. 

This is why, from the outset, I’ve repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why I have been so determined to limit the duration of this mission. And as General McKenzie said, this is why our mission was designed — this is the way it was designed to operate: operate under severe stress and attack. We’ve known that from the beginning. 

And as I’ve been in constant contact with our senior military leaders – and I mean constant, around the clock – and our commanders on the ground and 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. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.

I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose, and the moment of our choosing. Here is what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans who are there. We will get out our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.

I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives and get Americans, our partners, our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan. Every day when I talk to our commanders, I ask them what they need – what more do they need, if anything, to get the job done. As they will tell you, I granted every request. I reiterated to them again today, on three occasions, that they should take the maximum steps necessary to protect our forces on the ground in Kabul. 

And I also want to thank the Secretary of Defense and the military leadership at the Pentagon, and all the commanders in the field. There has been complete unanimity from every commander on the objectives of this mission and the best way to achieve those objectives. 

Those who have served through the ages have drawn inspiration from the Book of Isaiah, when the Lord says, ‘Whom shall I send…who shall go for us?’ And the American military has been answering for a long time: ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me.’ ‘Here I am. Send me.’ Each one of these women and men of our armed forces are the heirs of that tradition of sacrifice of volunteering to go into harm’s way, to risk everything – not for glory, not for profit, but to defend what we love and the people we love. 

And I ask that you join me now in a moment of silence for all those in uniform and out uniform – military and civilian, who have given the last full measure of devotion.

(A moment of silence is taken.) 

BIDEN: Thank you. May God bless you all. And may God protect those troops and all those standing watch for America. We have so much to do. It’s within our capacity to do it. We just have to remain steadfast. Steadfast. We will complete our mission. And we will continue, after our troops have withdrawn, to find means by which we defined any American who wishes to get out of Afghanistan. We will find them and we will get them out. 

Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC. 

QUESTION: Mr. President, you have said leaving Afghanistan is in the national interest of the United States. After today’s attack, do you believe you will authorize additional forces to respond to that attack inside Afghanistan? And are you – are you prepared to add additional forces to protect those Americans who remain on the ground carrying out the evacuation operation? 

BIDEN: I’ve instructed the military, whatever they need – if they need additional force – I will grant it. 

But the military – from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Chiefs, the commanders in the field – have all contacted me one way or another, usually by letter, saying they subscribe to the mission as designed to get as many people out as we can within the timeframe that is allotted. 

That is the best way, they believe, to get as many Americans out as possible, and others. And with regard to finding, tracking down the ISIS leaders who ordered this, we have some reason to believe we know who they are – not certain – and we will find ways of our choosing, without large military operations, to get them.

O’DONNELL: Inside Afghanistan, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Wherever they are. Trevor from Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. There has been some criticism, even from people in your party, about the dependence on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of the airport. Do you feel like there was a mistake made in that regard? 

BIDEN: No, I don’t. Look, I think General McKenzie handled this question very well. The fact is that we’re in a situation – we inherited a situation, particularly since, as we all know, that the Afghan military collapsed 11 days before – in 11 days – that it is in the interest of, as Mackenzie said, in the interest of the Taliban that, in fact, ISIS-K does not metastasize beyond what it is, number one. And number two, it’s in their interest that we are able to leave on time, on target. 

As a consequence of that, the major things we’ve asked them – moving back the perimeter; give me more space between the wall; stopping vehicles from coming through, et cetera; searching people coming through – it is not what you’d call a tightly commanded, regimented operation like the U.S. is – the military is – but they’re acting in their interest — their interest. 

And so, by and large – and I’ve asked this same question to military on the ground, whether or not it’s a useful exercise. No one trusts them; we’re just counting on their self-interest to continue to generate their activities. 

And it’s in their self-interest that we leave when we said and that we get as many people out as we can. And like I said, even in the midst of everything that happened today, over 7,000 people have gotten out; over 5,000 Americans overall. 

So, it’s not a matter of trust, it’s a matter of mutual self-interest. And – but there is no evidence thus far that I’ve been given, as a consequence by any of our commanders in the field, that there has been collusion between the Taliban and ISIS in carrying out what happened today both in front of the hotel and what is expected to continue for – beyond today. Aamer, Associated Press. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You have spoken again powerfully about your own son and the weight of these decisions. With that in mind – and also what you’ve said: that the longer we stay, the more likelihood that there would be a major attack – how do you weigh staying even one more day, considering what’s happened? 

BIDEN: Because I think what America says matters. What we say we’re going to do and the context in which we say we’re going to do it, that we do it – unless something exceptional changes. 

There are additional American citizens, there are additional green card holders, there are additional personnel of our allies, there are additional SIV card holders, there are additional Afghans that have helped us, and there are additional groups of individuals that have contacted us from women’s groups, to NGOs, and others, who have expressly indicated they want to get out and have gathered in certain circumstances in groups, on buses and other means, that still presents the opportunity for the next several days, between now and the 31st, to be able to get them out. And our military – and, I believe, to the extent that we can do that knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack – the military has concluded that’s what we should do. I think they’re right. I think they’re correct.

And after that, we’re going to be in a circumstance where there are – will be, I believe, numerous opportunities to continue to provide access for additional persons to get out of Afghanistan, either through means that we provide and/or are provided through cooperation with the Taliban.

They’re not good guys, the Taliban. I’m not suggesting that at all. But they have a keen interest. 

As many of you have been reporting, they very much would like to figure out how to keep the airport open. They don’t have the capacity to do it. They very much are trying to figure out whether or not they can maintain what is the portion of an economy that has become not robust, but fundamentally different than it had been.

And so there’s a lot of reasons why they have reached out not just to us, but to others, as to why it would be continued in their interest to get more of the personnel we want to get out. We can locate them. Now, there’s not many left that we can assess that are – want to come out. There’s some Americans we’ve identified – we’ve contacted the vast majority of them, if not all of them – who don’t want to leave because they have sig- — they’re dual nationals, they have extended families, et cetera. And there’s others who are looking for the time. So, that’s why we continue.

 I’ll take a few more questions, and – but, you, sir. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. 

BIDEN: I didn’t pick you, but that’s okay. 

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you – you say that ‘what America says matters.’ What do you say to the Afghans who helped troops, who may not be able to get out by August 31st? What –

BIDEN: I say –

QUESTION: What do you say to them? 

BIDEN: – we’re going to continue to try to get you out. It matters. Look, I know of no conflict, as a student of history – no conflict where, when a war was ending, one side was able to guarantee that everyone that wanted to be extracted from that country would get out. 

And think about it, folks. I think it’s important for – I know the American people get this in their gut. There are, I would argue, millions of Afghani citizens who are not Taliban; who did not actively cooperate with us as SIVs; who, if given a chance, they’d be onboard a plane tomorrow. 

It sounds ridiculous, but the vast majority of people in communities like that want to come to America, given a choice. So, getting every single person out is – can’t be guaranteed to anybody because there’s a determination, all who wants to get out as well. At any rate, it’s a process. I was really pointing to you, but – you, sir. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. There are reports that U.S. officials provided the Taliban with names of Americans and Afghan officials to evacuate. Were you aware of that? Did that happen? And then, sir, did you personally reject a recommendation to hold, or to recapture Bagram Air Force Base? 

BIDEN: Here’s what I’ve done on the – ask this – I’ll answer the last question, first. On the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or a war, I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan – the commanders, as well as the Pentagon. And I ask for their best military judgment: what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission. They concluded – the military – that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so, I followed that recommendation. 

With regard to– there are certain circumstances where we’ve gotten information – and quite frankly, sometimes from some of you – saying, ‘You know of such and such a group of people who are trying to get out and they’re on a bus, they’re moving…’ – from other people – ‘and this is their location.’ And there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, ‘This…’ — for example, ‘This bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.’ So, yes, there have been occasions like that. And to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred — they’ve been let through. 

But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. I don’t – there may have been, but I know of no circumstance. It doesn’t mean it’s not – it didn’t exist, that, ‘Here’s the names of 12 people; they’re coming. Let them through.’ It could very well have happened. I’ll take one more question. 

QUESTION: Mr. President, can I –

QUESTION: Mr. President, right here. Mr. President – 

BIDEN: Whoa. Wait, wait, wait. Let me take the one question from the most interesting guy that I know in the press. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Is that – is there -thank you. 

BIDEN: That’s you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, there had not been a U.S. service member killed in combat in Afghanistan since February of 2020. You set a deadline. You pulled troops out. You sent troops back in. And now 12 Marines are dead. You said the buck stops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks? 

BIDEN: 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 that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1. In return, the commitment was made – and that was a year before – in return, he was given a commitment that the Taliban would continue to attack others, but would not attack any American forces. Remember that? I’m being serious. 

QUESTION: Mr. President –

BIDEN: No, I – I’m asking you a question. Be a – because before I –

QUESTION: Donald Trump is not the President right now. 

BIDEN: No, no – now wait a minute. I’m asking you a question. Is that – is that accurate, to the best of your knowledge?

QUESTION: I know what you’re talking about. But, Mr. President, respectfully –

BIDEN: What? 

QUESTION: Since -I don’t think that the issue that — do you think that people have an issue with pulling out of Afghanistan, or just the way that things have happened? 

BIDEN: I think they have an issue that people are likely to get hurt – some, as we’ve seen, have gotten killed – and that it is messy. The reason why – whether my friend will acknowledge it and was – reported it – the reason why there were no attacks on Americans, as you said, from the date until I came into office, was because the commitment was made by President Trump: ‘I will be out by May 1st. In the meantime, you agree not to attack any Americans.’ That was the deal. That’s why no American was attacked. 

QUESTION: And you said that you still – a few days ago, you said you squarely stand by your decision to pull out. 

BIDEN: Yes, I do. Because look at it this way, folks – and I’m going to – I have another meeting, for real. But imagine where we’d be if I had indicated, on May the 1st, I was not going to renegotiate an evacuation date; we were going to stay there. I’d have only one alternative: Pour thousands of more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won, relative – is why the reason we went in the first place. 

I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan – a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country, and is made up – and I don’t mean this in a derogatory – made up of different tribes who have never, ever, ever gotten along with one another. 

And so, as I said before – and this is the last comment I’ll make, but we’ll have more chance to talk about this, unfortunately, beyond, because we’re not out yet – if Osama bin Laden, as well as al Qaeda, had chosen to launch an attack – when they left Saudi Arabia – out of Yemen, would we have ever gone to Afghanistan? Even though the Taliban completely controlled Afghanistan at the time, would we have ever gone? 

I know it’s not fair to ask you questions. It’s rhetorical. But raise your hand if you think we should have gone and given up thousands of lives and tens of thousands of wounded. 

Our interest in going was to prevent al Qaeda from reemerging – first to get bin Laden, wipe out al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and prevent that from happening again. 

As I’ve said 100 times: Terrorism has metastasized around the world; we have greater threats coming out of other countries a heck of a lot closer to the United States. We don’t have military encampments there; we don’t keep people there. We have over-the-horizon capability to keep them from going after us. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war. Thank you so much. 

source: dailymail.co.uk