(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden had a clear and directed message for the assailants responsible for the deadly terror attack outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, and for anyone else who might be planning an attack.
“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,” he said.
“These ISIS terrorists will not win,” he added. “We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”
Biden addressed the nation after 12 American service members were killed and 15 wounded, among scores of Afghan casualties in the attack outside the airport. The Pentagon has said security threats remain.
“A tough day,” Biden began. “This evening in Kabul, as you all know, a terrorist attack — that we’ve been talking about and worried about, that the intelligence community has assessed, has 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.”
“I’ve been engaged all day, in constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington and the Pentagon, as well in Afghanistan and Doha. And my commanders in Washington, in the field, have been on this with great detail, and you’ve had a chance to speak to some so far,” he said. “The situation on the ground is still evolving, and I’m constantly being updated.”
Pentagon officials confirmed earlier that two ISIS suicide bombers detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey Gate at the airport in Kabul, where U.S. Marines were conducting security checks of potential evacuees, and in the vicinity of the nearby Baron Hotel, a short distance from the Abbey Gate.
A U.S. official confirmed later that the 12 U.S. military service members killed in Thursday’s attack included 11 Marines and one Navy hospital corpsman, or medic. It appears that the 15 other service members who were injured in the attack were also Marines.
“These American service members who gave their lives, that’s an overused word, but it’s appropriate here, were heroes,” Biden said from the White House. “Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others.”
Before taking questions from reporters, Biden asked to be joined in a moment of silence “for all those in uniform and out of uniform, military and civilian, who have given the last full measure of devotion.”
By Thursday afternoon, ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, claimed credit for the attack. It comes days after Biden warned from the White House of on-the-ground security threats from the terrorist group known as the “sworn enemy of the Taliban.”
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said at the time.
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