‘We’re going to have to go back in’: Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says US forces will have to RETURN to Afghanistan to tackle terror threats posed by Taliban and ISIS-K-/Dailymail

‘We’re going to have to go back in’: Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says US forces will have to RETURN to Afghanistan to tackle terror threats posed by Taliban and ISIS-K

  • Paneta, a Democrat, served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration
  • He said in an interview with Erin Burnett that the withdrawal of American troops left the United States in a ‘very dangerous and difficult situation’
  • He was asked if he believed it was right for the Biden administration to stick with the August 31 deadline for removing American troops from the war-torn country
  • ‘We’re going to have to go back in to get ISIS. We’re probably going to have to go back in when Al Qaeda resurrects itself, as they will, with this Taliban,’ he said

By ADAM SCHRADER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and REUTERS

PUBLISHED: 22:34 EDT, 26 August 2021 | UPDATED: 00:22 EDT, 27 August 2021

Leon Panetta said on Thursday that the Unites States military will have to return to Afghanistan to tackle terror threats posed by Taliban and ISIS-K after a suicide attack killed 13 U.S. troops and at least 90 Afghans.

Paneta, a Democrat who served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration, said in an interview with Erin Burnett for her CNN show OutFront that the withdrawal of American troops left the United States in a ‘very dangerous and difficult situation.’

He was asked if he believed it was right for the Biden administration to stick with the August 31 deadline for removing American troops from the war-torn country. Dailymail.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Daily MailPauseNext video0:58 / 1:55SettingsFull-screenRead More

‘The bottom line is, our work is not done. We’re going to have to go after ISIS. I’m glad the president said we’re going to hunt them down and pay a price for what they did in killing our warriors. And we should,’ Paneta said.

‘We’re going to have to go back in to get ISIS. We’re probably going to have to go back in when Al Qaeda resurrects itself, as they will, with this Taliban. They’ve gave safe haven to Al Qaeda before, they’ll probably do it again.’

He added: ‘I understand that we’re trying to get our troops out of there, but the bottom line is, we can leave a battlefield, but we can’t leave the War on Terrorism, which still is a threat to our security.’Leon Paneta said in an interview with Erin Burnett that the withdrawal of American troops left the United States in a 'very dangerous and difficult situation'+6

Leon Paneta said in an interview with Erin Burnett that the withdrawal of American troops left the United States in a ‘very dangerous and difficult situation’Paneta, a Democrat, served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration+6

Paneta, a Democrat, served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration

Burnett noted that Paneta’s comments appeared to indicate that America will need to put more troops back into Afghanistan in order to prevent the threats from Al Qaeda and ISIS – the opposite of what President Joe Biden wants to do. 

‘Well, what we’re going to be doing is counterterrorism operations. We’re going to have to go after those that are responsible,’ Paneta responded.

‘I think we have pretty good intelligence on the leadership of ISIS. I think there’s a pretty good chance we can identify who is involved with this attack. And once we are able to locate them, we have to go after them. That’s what the president promised today, and I suspect we will.’

He continued: ‘So counterterrorism operations are going to be something we are going to have to continue to do against ISIS, against Al Qaeda, against Boko Haram. Those are terrorist groups at war with the United States. We’ve got to go after them.’

During the interview, Paneta also said ‘there’s no question that it’s probably Joe Biden’s worst nightmare to lose 13 Marines as a result of what’s happened here. This has to be the worst day in his administration.’

U.S. troops helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule braced for more attacks on Friday after Islamic State struck the crowded gates of Kabul airport on Thursday, killing scores of civilians and at least 13 U.S. troops.

Video shot by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies strewn around a canal on the edge of the airport. At least two blasts and gunfire rocked the area, witnesses said.

ISIS said one of its suicide bombers targeted ‘translators and collaborators with the American army.’ U.S. officials also blamed the group and vowed retribution.A wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after a deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday+6

A wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after a deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on ThursdaySmoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul after two suicide bombers and gunmen targeted crowds massing near the Kabul airport+6

Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul after two suicide bombers and gunmen targeted crowds massing near the Kabul airport

General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said military leaders were on alert for more ISIS attacks – possibly including rockets or car bombs targeting the airport.

‘We’re doing everything we can to be prepared,’ he said.

Biden said on Thursday that he had ordered the Pentagon to plan how to strike ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate that claimed responsibility.

‘We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,’ Biden said during televised comments from the White House.

Corpses were in the canal by the airport fence, video from the scene showed, some being fished out and laid in heaps while wailing civilians searched for loved ones.

‘I saw bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado blowing plastic bags,’ said one Afghan who had been trying to reach the airport. ‘That little water flowing in the sewage canal had turned into blood.’

Zubair, a 24 year-old civil engineer, who had been trying for nearly a week to get inside the airport, said he was close to a suicide bomber who detonated explosives at the gate.Afghans struggle to reach the foreign forces to show their credentials to flee the country outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan+6

Afghans struggle to reach the foreign forces to show their credentials to flee the country outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan

‘Men, women and children were screaming. I saw many injured people – men, women and children – being loaded into private vehicles and taken toward the hospitals,’ he said.

A Taliban spokesman described the attack as the work of ‘evil circles’ who would be suppressed once foreign troops leave.

Western countries fear that the Taliban, who once sheltered Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, will allow Afghanistan to turn again into a haven for militants. The Taliban say they will not let the country be used by terrorists.

The United States would press on with evacuations despite the threat of further attacks, McKenzie said, noting that there were still around 1,000 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan.

In the past 12 days, Western countries have evacuated nearly 100,000 people. But they acknowledge that thousands will be left behind when the last U.S. troops leave at the end of the month.

Full transcript of Joe Biden’s statement of Kabul suicide bombing and answers he gave to reporters’ questions

 By Melissa Koenig for DailyMail.com

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Been a tough day. This evening in Kabul, as you all know, terrorists attacked – that we’ve been talking about and worried about, that the intelligence community has assessed [was] undertaken – an attack – by a group known as ISIS-K – took the lives of American service members standing guard at the airport, and wounded several others seriously. 

They also wounded a number of civilians, and civilians were killed as well. 

I’ve been engaged all day, and in constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington, the Pentagon, as well as in Afghanistan and Doha. And my commanders here in Washington and in the field have been on this with great detail, and you’ve had a chance to speak to some, so far. 

The situation on the ground is still evolving, and I’m constantly being updated. 

These American service members who gave their lives – it’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate – they were heroes. Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. 

They were part of an airlift, an evacuation effort unlike any seen in history, with more than 100,000 American citizens, American partners, Afghans who helped us, and others taken to safety in the last 11 days. Just in the last 12 hours or so, another 7,000 have gotten out.  

They were part of the bravest, most capable, and the most selfless military on the face of the Earth. And they were part of, simply, what I call the ‘backbone of America.’ They’re the spine of America, the best the country has to offer. In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombing+6

In a news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down ISIS-K after American soldiers were killed in a bombingJoe Biden vows to hunt down ISIS-K and make them pay for bomb

Jill and I – our hearts ache, like I’m sure all of you do as well, for all those Afghan families who have lost loved ones, including small children, or been wounded in this vicious attack. And we’re outraged as well as heartbroken. 

Being the father of an Army major who served for a year in Iraq and, before that, was in Kosovo as a U.S. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war – when he came home after a year in Iraq, he was diagnosed, like many, many coming home, with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain – who 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. 

But 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, in the service of others, in the service of America. Like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism of – the fallen this day, they’re part of a great and 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 you’re – 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 arch-enemy 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 have been so determined to limit the duration of this mission. And as General 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 and 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 is what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans who are there. We will get out our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.

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. Every day when I talk to our commanders, I ask them what they need – what more do they need, if anything, to get the job done. As they will tell you, I granted every request. I reiterated to them again today, on three occasions, that they should take the maximum steps necessary to protect our forces on the ground in Kabul. 

And I also want to thank the Secretary of Defense and the military leadership at the Pentagon, and all the commanders in the field. There has been complete unanimity from every commander on the objectives of this mission and the best way to achieve those objectives. 

Those who have served through the ages have drawn inspiration from the Book of Isaiah, when the Lord says, ‘Whom shall I send…who shall go for us?’ And the American military has been answering for a long time: ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me.’ ‘Here I am. Send me.’ Each one of these women and men of our armed forces are the heirs of that tradition of sacrifice of volunteering to go into harm’s way, to risk everything – not for glory, not for profit, but to defend what we love and the people we love. 

And I ask that you join me now in a moment of silence for all those in uniform and out uniform – military and civilian, who have given the last full measure of devotion.

(A moment of silence is taken.) 

BIDEN: Thank you. May God bless you all. And may God protect those troops and all those standing watch for America. We have so much to do. It’s within our capacity to do it. We just have to remain steadfast. Steadfast. We will complete our mission. And we will continue, after our troops have withdrawn, to find means by which we defined any American who wishes to get out of Afghanistan. We will find them and we will get them out. 

Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC. 

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