An ISIS terrorist attack at Kabul’s airport killed 13 American soldiers on Thursday, a devastating development for the United States in what had until then been a chaotic and humiliating but largely bloodless withdrawal from the nation’s longest war.
President Joe Biden sought to calm an outcry over his failed leadership in an impromptu speech to the American people hours later blaming Donald Trump for the carnage — but the damage to his reputation may already be done, as a report published as recently as Tuesday suggested the White House was content to leave a large number of Americans stranded in Afghanistan.
“A deal with the Taliban”
According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday that 11 Marines, one Navy medic, and one other service member were killed in suicide bombings near the airport in Kabul, where American troops have been protecting thousands of people frantically evacuating the country since a Taliban coup.
Some 60 Afghans were killed and many others were left bloodied and maimed, including American troops. The massacre marked the first time American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan since February 2020, the Washington Post noted.
In the days preceding the attack, President Biden had been criticized for leaving thousands of Americans stranded in hostile territory, forcing Biden to stress that the Taliban were cooperating with the evacuation while assuring Americans that they would return home safely.
But Biden was eager to complete the withdrawal by his Aug. 31 deadline as the danger to those left behind became clear, and his administration warned Americans on Wednesday of an imminent threat to the airport.
In the attack’s aftermath, Biden ignored growing calls to resign or face impeachment and promptly passed blame on his predecessor, according to The Guardian, saying, “You know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban.”
“It was time to leave”
But as Biden went looking to pass the buck, the gravity of the situation was clear, as he alluded to “mutual-self-interest” with the Taliban, and his general in charge of U.S. Central Command, Kenneth McKenzie, said earlier in the day that the United States was counting on a “common purpose” for security.
The general also conceded that the Pentagon “thought this would happen sooner or later,” the Washington Post reported, as he warned that more attacks were possible.
“The threat from ISIS is completely real, we expect those attacks to continue and we are doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks,” McKenzie said, according to the New York Post.
Concerning the evacuation, Biden said that his plans had not changed and that he gave orders to strike back at ISIS. “Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to leave a 20-year war,” he said, as The Guardian reported.
There are some 1,000 Americans left in Afghanistan, the State Department said Thursday, according to PBS.