It’s been almost three weeks since the catastrophic suicide attack at the Kabul Airport that killed 13 American servicemen and about 170 innocent Afghan civilians. President Biden vowed to the American people that “we will not forgive” the attack, but can we really believe him?
President Biden is wont to compare his administration—you know, all the “adults” back in the room—to the Trump administration. But during President Trump’s tenure, three consecutive “emirs” of ISIS-K were hunted down and killed by U.S. forces in targeted strikes—in April and July 2017, and August 2018.
What’s being done to capture or eliminate the current leader of ISIS-K—Shahab al-Muhajir—who almost certainly approved the Kabul Airport attack and is walking around alive and well?
Since the Kabul Airport attack, President Biden has done exactly two things to retaliate. First, on Aug. 27, he claims to have killed two “high-profile” ISIS-K operatives in a drone strike. But who were they? Were they involved in the airport attack, or were they two mid-level schlubs who were at the wrong place at the wrong time? The lack of an official answer at this point in time suggests the latter.
The second thing President Biden did was an Aug. 29 drone strike that didn’t kill the emir of ISIS-K (or any ISIS-K, for that matter), but rather 10 Afghan civilians, including several children. Biden has assured Americans that he’s developed counter-terrorism “over-the-horizon” capabilities that will prevent terrorist attacks emanating from Afghanistan. Was the Aug. 29 drone strike the first example of such capabilities? Or was it a rush job to quell the horrific media coverage?
The death of those 10 civilians is a direct result of a lack of U.S. “eyes and ears” on the ground to collect intelligence—an absence which will certainly lead to gaps in indications and warnings of terrorist operations. When Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was asked at a Senate hearing earlier today whether the target of the Aug. 29 drone strike was an aid worker or an ISIS operative, Blinken’s answer was simply, “I don’t know.”
The American people deserve better answers than that, Mr. President. You care more about saving the political career of Gov. Gavin Newsom than you do about the mess you’ve made in Afghanistan.
This piece originally appeared in the New York Post