White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified Friday that President Biden’s deadly threat toward ISIS-K terrorists who killed 13 U.S. service members in a suicide bombing attack in Kabul was not theoretical.
“I think he made clear that he does not want them to live on the earth anymore,” Psaki told a reporter during a press briefing when asked to clarify what Biden meant when he said Thursday that he was positioned to strike back at the Islamic State affiliate group.
“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,” the president said in a solemn address.
The White House declined to give further details on how it plans to retaliate after the devastating terror attack on Thursday. But Psaki’s clarification left little to the imagination.
In his formal address to the nation, Biden said he has authorized the U.S. military to strike “key ISIS assets, leadership and facilities.”
“We will respond with force and precision at our time, at a place we choose, in a moment of our choosing,” Biden added.
An explosion outside a major gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport killed at least 100 people Thursday afternoon in what the U.S. described as a “complex attack” carried out by one suicide bomber and Islamic State-linked fighters. The Pentagon said 13 U.S. service members were killed and 15 more were injured, along with scores of Afghan nationals, in the single deadliest day for U.S. troops in the country in 10 years.
The Islamic State group took credit for the attack Thursday evening.
Biden spoke of the threat from the group on Sunday, saying that “these troops and innocent civilians at the airport face the risk of attack from ISIS-K.”
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday that “specific, credible threats” to U.S. troops and allied forces from terrorist groups in the region remain, yet those threats have not halted or deterred the planned retrograde evacuation phase, which is planned to be completed by Aug. 31.
Kirby also confirmed that thousands of ISIS-K prisoners had escaped from regional prisons as the Afghan government collapsed earlier this month and U.S. troops chose to retreat from Bagram Airfield — which housed a prison containing ISIS-K members — in early July.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, said Thursday that the U.S. is preparing for future assaults.
“We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks, and we expect those attacks to continue, and we’re doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks,” McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the U.S. had enough forces on the ground to counter enemy militants.
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