US President Joe Biden has tried to defend his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and warned the little-known terrorist group Daesh-K, "We are not done with you yet."
In a defiant speech Tuesday, President Biden said the 20-year war on Afghanistan was no longer serving the national interest of the United States, after his country implemented a policy of death and destruction in the country for two decades.
"As Commander in Chief I firmly believe the best path to guard our safety and our security lies in a tough, unforgiving, targeted, precise strategy that goes after terror where it is today, not where it was two decades ago," the US president said in lengthy prepared remarks from the State Dining Room of the White House.
Terrorists struck the Kabul airport on Thursday, killing at least 180 people, mostly Afghan civilians and about a dozen US troops. A terrorist group, called Daesh-K, which was not known to anyone before Thursday’s deadly bombing, claimed the responsibility for the attack.
Two weeks before the bombing, American broadcaster CNN aired an interview with a “senior” commander of the Daesh-K terrorist group from a Kabul hotel while the US-backed government was still in power in Afghanistan.
Shockingly, the Daesh-K commander told CNN reporter Clarissa Ward that the group was “laying low and waiting for its moment to strike,” but the broadcaster apparently did not share this vital information with US authorities or maybe it did and they simply ignored it.
In his speech, Biden said it was the “unanimous recommendation” of his national security team and military commanders to leave Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline.
“Let me be clear: Leaving Aug. 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,” Biden said. “I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit.”
Biden described the chaotic evacuation effort as an “extraordinary success,” saying that the American military and coalition forces evacuated more than 120,000 civilians from Afghanistan.
He said that between 100 and 200 American citizens remain in Afghanistan.
“We no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan,” Biden said. “After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, I refused to send another generation of America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.”
Biden points to threats from China and Russia
Biden pointed to geopolitical threats from China and Russia as increasingly pressing issues that Washington should focus on.
"There is nothing China or Russia would rather have, would want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan," he said.
"And for anyone who gets the wrong idea, let me say it clearly," Biden added. "To those who wish America harm, to those who engage in terrorism against us or our allies, know this: The United States will never rest. We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down to the ends of the earth and you will pay the ultimate price."
The Taliban are poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and removed the Taliban from power. American forces occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into Kabul, weakened by continued foreign occupation.