During his speech on Friday regarding the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden claimed that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda was “gone.”
“Look, let’s put this thing in perspective here. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as — as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did,” Biden said.
The president was responding to a question from a reporter who asked what Biden would say “to America’s partners around the world who have criticized not the withdrawal, but the conduct of that withdrawal and made them question America’s credibility on the world stage.”
Biden’s claim that al-Qaeda is “gone” from Afghanistan is false. The U.N. Security Council released a report in June that refers to “large numbers of Al-Qaeda fighters.”
“A significant part of the leadership of Al-Qaeda resides in the Afghanistan and Pakistan border region, alongside Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. Large numbers of Al-Qaeda fighters and other foreign extremist elements aligned with the Taliban are located in various parts of Afghanistan,” the report also said, according to The Dispatch’s fact-checking team.
In January of this year, the Dispatch reported, the U.S. Department of Treasury released a statement saying: “[A]l-Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under the Taliban’s protection. Al-Qaeda broadly still depends on donations from likeminded supporters, and from individuals who believe that their money is supporting humanitarian or charitable causes.”
The Washington Post also reported that al-Qaeda has fighters in Afghanistan, even if the terrorist organization has only a “limited” ability “to launch international terrorist attacks” from the country.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby attempted to correct Biden’s claims about al-Qaeda after the speech, saying, “[W]e know that al Qaeda is a presence as well as ISIS in Afghanistan and we’ve talked about that for quite some time,” CNN reported. Kirby also said that “what we believe is that there isn’t a presence that is significant enough to merit a threat to our homeland as there was back on 9/11, 20 years ago.”
As The Daily Wire reported on Friday, Biden also claimed that Americans in Afghanistan have been able to get to the airport in Kabul without issue, a claim that was immediately debunked by ABC News reporter Ian Pannell and anchor David Muir.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get—in Kabul—through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the—with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are—carrying an American passport—are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport,” Biden said.
On ABC, Muir asked Pannell: “The president said he has no intelligence that the Americans have not been able to get [to the Kabul airport]. The question, obviously—does that square with reporting on ground?”
Pannell responded: “I mean – just totally not.”