We lost. We have some sense, like many of you do, what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. You get this feeling like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. There’s no way out. My heart aches for you, and I know this: We have a continuing obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, the families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary. It lasts forever.
The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security and the service of others. In the service of America. Like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who have died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism, of the fallen this day, they are part of a great noble company of American heroes.
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. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.
Over the past few weeks — I know many of you are probably tired of hearing me say it — we’ve been made aware by our intelligence community that the ISIS-K, an archenemy of the Taliban, people who were freed when both those prisons were opened, has been planning a complex set of attacks on the United States personnel and others. This is why from the outset I’ve repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why I’ve been so determined to limit the duration of this mission.
Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that came after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including floggings, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as rulers.
As Gen. [Kenneth F.] McKenzie said, this is why our mission was designed, this is the way it was designed to operate, operate under severe stress and attack. We’ve known that from the beginning. And as I’ve been in constant contact with our senior military leaders — and I mean constant, around the clock — and our commanders on the ground throughout the day, they made it clear that we can and we must complete this mission and we will. And that’s what I’ve ordered them to do.
We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation. I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing.
Here’s what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. 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, and I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives, and get Americans, our partners, our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan.