Several hours after two bombings happened in Kabul, Afghanistan, President Biden addressed the nation appearing ashen and exhausted. His greeting to the American people on Thursday, August 26, was, “Tough day.” Calling the dozen U.S. soldiers killed “heroes,” the commander-in-chief spent several minutes offering condolences to the families of those who perished in Kabul before moving on to discuss America’s next steps.
“The situation on the ground is still evolving,” Biden said while promising to continue evacuations up until the August 31 deadline but not beyond it. “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue Americans.” It is unclear how many U.S. citizens are still waiting to be rescued, but the president implied there weren’t many left. He explained that some have dual citizenship and want to remain with their families in the area. This comes in direct opposition to televised reports of multiple people on the ground in Afghanistan saying they feel “stranded.”
Biden insisted there is no evidence of collusion between the Taliban and ISIS-K and said that as tragic as the situation is, he is well aware of the danger the U.S. military is undertaking. Service members have had to “operate under severe stress and attack” and indicated he felt it was unlikely the U.S. could have escaped without any causalities.
The president promised, “These terrorists will not win. We will rescue Americans,” and said, “America will not be intimidated. We will not be deterred by terrorists.” His next message was much stronger while fingering ISIS-K as the perpetrators of the carnage in Afghanistan today:
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the two bombings that struck Kabul, killing at least 72 people, including 12 U.S. service members. The first attack was a suicide bomber, who is identified as Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri. The terrorist was able to make it up to where the Marines were stationed, passing the Taliban checkpoints, where his suicide vest went off.
General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander on the ground, was the only person to give an accounting to reporters before President Biden’s speech:
“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.”
Meanwhile, the Taliban claim the area that was infiltrated was secured by U.S. troops. The general promised that the U.S. would continue evacuations, despite the dangers and that there would be retaliation once the responsible people are discovered. Donald Trump’s security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said Thursday’s (August 26) attack was “just the beginning,” and McKenzie agreed:
“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? 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.”
Canada, Holland, Norway, and Poland have stopped evacuations from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has had little in response to the situation except to chastise Representatives Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) for their trip to Kabul. Instead, the House of Representatives met to push through Democrat legislation. As Fox News reported:
“But the House of Representatives in its two days in session this week took no votes on Afghanistan-related legislation. The only major votes it took were on a Democrat-backed elections bill and a procedural ‘rule’ that advances Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan while scheduling a vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
Republicans, including former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, are calling for the president to be impeached and condemning Pelosi and Dems for working on their agenda instead of trying to help those stranded in Afghanistan. The Senate is currently on recess.
GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) condemned Pelosi for working “late into the night” on the spending agenda, but “not one moment of that time was spent on getting Americans home from Afghanistan.” He continued:
“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 [Mike] Gallagher’s [R-WI] legislation prohibiting the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.