President Joe Biden has issued a warning to ISIS-Khorasan, the group which killed 13 U.S. service members in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport, and said those who cause America harm will “pay the ultimate price.”
Biden delivered a defiant address to the nation on Aug. 31, just one day after the last American military planes left Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, and said the United States remains committed to pursuing terrorist organizations “without boots on the ground.”
“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” the Democrat president said, adding, “We’ve shown that capacity just in the last week. We struck ISIS-K remotely, days after they murdered 13 of our service members and dozens of innocent Afghans.
“And to ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet,” he warned.
Biden also cautioned that to “those who wish America harm, we will hunt you down and you will pay the ultimate price.”
The evacuation effort from Kabul was marred by a deadly terrorist bombing on Aug. 26, which claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members, 3 Britons, and around 170 Afghans. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.
ISIS Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K, was founded in 2015 and is a sworn enemy of the Taliban and the United States.
The group remains active years after its inception, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington D.C. think tank, which said the group received support from the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The ISIS affiliate is headquartered in the east of Afghanistan and has carried out several devastating attacks, mostly targeting the country’s minority Shiite Muslims.
CSIS said the group was responsible for nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as roughly 250 clashes with the United States, Afghan, and Pakistani security forces since January 2017.
Elsewhere during Tuesday’s speech, Biden defended his administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on Aug. 31 but noted that the threat from terrorism has “changed” and expanded to other countries around the world.
“That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan,” the president said. “I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan.
“But I also know that the threat from terrorism continues in its pernicious and evil nature. But it’s changed, expanded to other countries. Our strategy has to change too.”
Biden said that the United States will continue in its fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries. “We have what’s called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground—or very few, if needed,” Biden said.
The president referenced the U.S. drone attack on Aug. 29 on a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from the ISIS-K terrorist group, for showing such capabilities.
The United States is investigating reports of civilian casualties following the attack, Captain Bill Urban, a Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson, said in a statement late on Aug. 29.
Biden on Aug. 31 also pointed to increasing challenges from China and Russia, including “cyberattacks and nuclear proliferation” which the United States needs to devote resources to.
“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,” the president said.