Biden warns terrorists: 'We will hunt you down and make you pay'
26th August 2021

‘We will make you pay’: Biden vows to ‘hunt down’ ISIS-K for double suicide bomb attack that killed 12 US troops and 60 Afghans and tells Pentagon to draw up airstrike plans. Takes responsibility for carnage BUT stands by troop withdrawal

  • 11 Marines and one Navy medic were killed on Thursday by the attacks at Kabul airport  
  • In an address to the nation, President Biden promised to hunt down the perpetrators and ‘make them pay’
  • He said the Islamic State’s local affiliate, ISIS-K, was responsible for the double suicide attack
  • He had already asked commanders for ‘plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities,’ he added 
  • At 3pm EST, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander on the ground, spoke to reporters
  • He said the evacuation would continue but that there were ‘active’ threats of ‘additional attacks’
  • The first bomb was detonated in a suicide vest and the bomber was being searched by Marines 
  • Gen. McKenzie said the US would retaliate against ISIS when they find the exact people responsible  
  • Other NATO countries begged Biden to extend his August 31 deadline to get out but he refused
  • Norway, Poland, Canada and Holland have all stopped evacuating citizens from Afghanistan
  • Biden is adamant he can get everyone out by August 31 but has offered no plan for how he will do it
  • Angry Republicans including Nikki Haley demanded Biden’s resignation on Thursday

President Joe Biden promised on Thursday to hunt down and destroy the terrorists who killed 11 U.S. Marines and a navy medic, along with dozens of Afghans, in a double suicide attack on Kabul airport. 

He paid tribute to the ‘selfless heroes’ who died helping vulnerable people to safety, but delivered a stern warning to the people responsible.

‘For those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive, we will not forget,’ he said in an address at the White House, after a day consulting with his national security team and senior generals.

‘We will hunt you down and make you pay.’

He said he had already asked his commanders for plans to strike back at the Afghan Islamic State offshoot that was responsible for the attack.

‘I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities,’ he said. 

‘We will respond with force and precision at at the place we choose and a moment of our choosing.’

Biden has been under intense pressure to justify his decision to withdraw by August 31, after the way in which the Taliban raced across the country and captured the capital.

His officials have been forced to negotiate with Kabul’s new rulers in order to ensure Westerners and vulnerable Afghans could reach the airport.

Biden also said Thursday that he bears responsibility for everything that has happened in Afghanistan since deciding to withdrawal U.S. forces – including the deaths of 12 personnel.

Warnings had grown in recent days that ISIS-K was planning a major attack. Other nations suspended their evacuation work and began flying their last remaining staff and military personnel out of the country.

But Biden said the U.S. would continue with the operation to rescue another 1000 Americans believed to still be in Kabul. 

‘We will not be deterred by terrorists,’ he said. ‘We’ll not let them stop our mission.’  

President Biden promised to hunt down and destroy the ISIS-K terrorists who were behind the double suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday, during an at-time emotional address in the East Room of the White House

Wounded Afghans lie on a bed at a hospital after a deadly explosions outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover

Criticism of his handling of the crisis mounted throughout the day as Biden remained out of sight. The White House did not issue a statement and the Secretary State and Secretary of Defense also failed to appear.

Biden began his speech with a tribute to the 12 service personnel who died.

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

‘They are part of an airlift, an evacuation effort unlike any seen in history.’

At least 60 Afghans also died on Thursday when the two bombs went off amid the desperate clamour to escape Kabul.  

The first bomber was being searched by troops when he detonated a suicide vest. The second was a car bomb attack.  It’s unclear how the first bomber got through Taliban checkpoints and close enough to the Marines to kill them.    

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of CentCom, promised that the dangerous evacuation effort would continue despite the growing threat from ISIS and said he would ‘go after’ those responsible for the blasts.

He said the US military had Apache attack helicopters, MQ-9 Reaper drones, F-15 fighters and AC-130 Gunships flying over Afghanistan and warned further attacks by the terrorists were imminent.

‘We expect these attacks to continue,’ General McKenzie said, saying he was particularly concerned about the risk of further car bomb attacks. 

Despite the danger, he said there was no alternative but to have troops continue to search people on the ground before they board flights, and that more than 100,000 had already been checked.  

One thousand Americans remain in Afghanistan but McKenzie said not all of them want to leave. He said his personnel would work to get those who do want to leave out, but that the operation was becoming increasingly difficult as the deadline approached.

Republicans stepped up their attacks on Biden. Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the UN, and others demanded he resign or be impeached for his handling of the the withdrawal.  

H.R McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said Thursday’s attack was ‘just the beginning.’  


A man injured in the Kabul terrorists attacks on Thursday arrives at hospital to be treated. Among those killed in the two bomb attacks were 11 US Marines and one Navy medic 

Medical staff bring an injured man to a hospital in an ambulance after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Horrifying footage from Kabul airport shows dozens of Afghans lying in blood after two ISIS suicide bombers attacked crowds who were hoping to flee the Taliban

In this frame grab from video, people attend to a wounded man near the site of a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021

The blast was outside The Baron Hotel, at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport. Westerners were staying in the hotel before their evacuation flights

Wounded women arrive at a hospital for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021

In this frame grab from video, a medical worker attends to a person wounded in a deadly explosion at the Kabul airport, at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s sequence of attacks. A fighter is shown in a grab from the group’s Telegram account, where they are allowed to operate

‘We are going to see horrible image after horrible image. 

‘We’re going to confront the steady drumbeat of horrors inflicted on the Afghan people. What are we going to do about it? 

‘Are we going to give a damn? Or is this going to be like Rwanda?’ McMaster told Yahoo News, referring to the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda.

‘I would not be surprised at all if ISIS-K — in fact, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the case — is being used by the Haqqani network as a cutout to attack us and humiliate us on our way out,’ he added. 

With the Taliban in charge of the city, there has not yet been any official death toll. Witnesses suggested as many as 60 Afghans had died. 

Norway, Poland, Holland and Canada have all stopped evacuating citizens. 

General McKenzie said the US would keep evacuating its citizens despite Thursday’s attack and despite an ‘imminent’ threat of more attacks.

The threat they are most concerned about is another car bomb, he said, but there is also intelligence to suggest ISIS wants to launch a rocket attack too. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, left, refused to take questions at a briefing on Thursday afternoon and instead let General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander on the ground, speak to reporters via Zoom 

Gen. McKenzie said the US would go after ISIS to retaliate if they can find the right groups. The threat of a suicide-born vehicle threat is ‘very high.’

He also said the US was working to determine how the suicide bomber got through, and that it may have been down to Taliban incompetence. 

He said there was no evidence the Taliban helped facilitate the attack. 

Among critics on Thursday as Trump’s National Security Adviser, H.R McMaster, who said the attacks were ‘just the beginning’ 

 ‘Clearly, if they get up to the Marines, there was a failure here.  The Taliban operate with varying degrees of competence – some of these guys are good and scrupulous, and some are not,’ he said.

General McKenzie is the only person from the government to speak to reporters about the fiasco. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken only tweeted about it. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement: ‘On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I express my deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and wounded in Kabul today.

‘Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others. We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief.

‘But we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand. To do anything less – especially now – would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan.’  

Republicans, outraged about the terrorist attacks in Kabul that left US personnel dead, accused President Biden of having ‘blood on his hands,’ as Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the US to take back control of Bagram airbase after reports of two explosions at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. 

‘I have advocated for days that the Bagram Air Base should be reopened as the Kabul airport is very difficult to defend and has been the only evacuation outlet,’ the South Carolina Republican wrote on Twitter. 

‘We have the capability to reestablish our presence at Bagram to continue to evacuate American citizens and our Afghan allies. The biggest mistake in this debacle is abandoning Bagram.’  

‘I urge the Biden Administration to reestablish our presence in Bagram as an alternative to the Kabul airport so that we do not leave our fellow citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind. It is not a capability problem, but a problem of will,’ Graham said. 

‘The retaking of Bagram would put our military at risk, but I think those involved in the operation would gladly accept that risk because it would restore our honor as a nation and save lives.’ 

Lawmakers were briefed on the situation this week by Biden’s national security team. 

Meanwhile, Democrat Foreign Affairs Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez, said:  ‘This is a full-fledged humanitarian crisis and US government personnel … must secure the airport.’

‘As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security.’

House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy  called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring back the House so that lawmakers can be briefed on the situation.

‘Today’s attacks are horrific. My prayers go out to those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. I also continue to pray for the safety of our troops, the stranded American citizens, our allies and Afghan partners who remain in the area. Our enemies have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the withdrawal,’ the California Republican said in a statement. 

‘It is time for Congress to act quickly to save lives. Speaker Pelosi must bring Congress back into session before August 31 so that we can be briefed thoroughly and comprehensively by the Biden Administration and pass Representative Gallagher’s legislation prohibiting the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan.’ 

Other lawmakers submitted an outpouring of prayers for American troops on the ground and Afghans on Twitter as they, along with the rest of the world, watch and wait to see how a series of attacks on Kabul airport unfold. 

Still others demanded a forceful response and called for ‘resignations’ out of the White House. Some warned the worst could be yet to come. 

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., reupped a call for Biden to resign. 

‘Biden Admin views abandoned people in Afghanistan as a political nuisance. Maybe looking at them as real people instead of ‘papers to push’ would produce rescues rather than deaths. It’s time for Biden to RESIGN NOW!!!’

‘Should Biden step down or be removed for his handling of Afghanistan? Yes,’ Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted. 

‘But that would leave us with Kamala Harris which would be ten times worse. God help us.’ 

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside the Baron Hotel, killing multiple people and injuring at least three US troops 

Scenes from the ground show injured Afghans being removed in wheelchairs.

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport on Thursday night after two explosions and gunfire ripped through crowds 

Afghan people who want to leave the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021

‘My biggest fear is these attacks today are just the beginning of what we will continue to see as the Administration fails to get Americans and our Afghan allies out and to safety,’ Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter. ‘We don’t need statements from the Administration right now – we need immediate resignations.’ 

‘At what point does Afghanistan turn from ‘Biden’s Saigon’ to ‘Biden’s Tehran Moment?” questioned Rep. Ralph Norman, R-SC. The Iran hostage crisis from 1979-1981 was considered a major failure and contributor to President Jimmy Carter’s loss in his reelection bid.   

‘President @JoeBiden- you had one job. That job continues and American lives & security depend on it. Act like it,’ Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter. 

Despite the escalating violence, the US’s top diplomat made the astonishing claim on Thursday morning, before the explosion, that it was ‘relatively safe’ on the ground and people should still be able to make their way there. 

There is still no indication of when Biden may speak.  

A White House official told on Thursday: ‘The President met with his national security team this morning, including Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, and commanders on the ground. 

‘He will continue to be briefed on updates on the evolving situation throughout the day.

‘There will be updates to the President’s schedule, which we will share as they become available.’

Earlier on Thursday, US troops on the ground closed gates at the airport and the State Department warned people not to congregate at the airport. Britain told its citizens to run for the Pakistan border instead.

The Taliban claimed Kabul on August 14 and there has been a frantic scramble to get Western citizens and Afghan allies out of the region by August 31, the Taliban’s ceasefire deadline.   

Injured Afghans are removed from Kabul airport in the Baron Hotel, next to the airport in Kabul, after a suicide bomb attack on Thursday evening 

A large explosion has ripped through crowds at Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate, with reports of multiple casualties and the eruption of gunfire following the blast 


ISIS-K is one of six or seven regional offshoots of the Islamic State – the K stands for the Khorasan region, which historically encompasses parts of modern day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

ISIS-K was begun in 2014, as a splinter group from the Pakistani Taliban, and its original leaders were from Pakistan.

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

In 2015 it was recognized by ISIS’s leaders in Iraq and Syria, and in January 2016 declared a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Its strongholds are eastern Afghanistan, straddling the border with Pakistan in Nangarhar province, and the north of Afghanistan. 

In 2018 the group was weakened in the north of Afghanistan, and in 2019 severely beaten back in the east. But in 2020 they regrouped and launched a series of devastating terror attacks. 

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia.

The terror group is now such a threat that fear of an attack by Isis-K is being used to justify the US’s refusal to delay its withdrawal from Kabul Airport after the August 31 deadline set by Joe Biden.

More recently, in May this year, ISIS-K killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Kabul.

The vast majority of the victims were young pupils the Islamist group regard as legitimate targets for the sin of being educated while being female.

The attack, which came after a period in which Western air strikes had killed thousands of the terror network’s supporters and at least three of its leaders, served as a bloody reminder of its ongoing ability to bring carnage to the streets of Afghanistan.

Before the blasts on Thursday, the Pentagon denied claims that the US was going to withdraw within 36 hours. 

Press Secretary John Kirby offered no date for when troops would leave, saying only they would stay in Afghanistan until the ‘end of the mission’. 

It offers little hope to the Americans on the ground who are stuck behind Taliban lines, unable to get to the airport.   

Overnight, 5,100 people were flown out of Kabul on US military planes. Another 8,300 were saved by coalition flights. 

The total – 13,400 – was drastically less than the 19,000 rescued in the previous 24 hours. 

Now, the flights that were already leaving half-empty, will 

Ross Wilson, the Acting US Ambassador in Afghanistan, said on Thursday his office was making ‘phone calls’ but that many Americans didn’t leave when they had the chance and are now on their own. 

‘We have through the State Department been placing phone calls to virtually all those who have registered with us to find out are they still in Afghanistan, are they interested in leaving Afghanistan, do they need help. 

‘People chose not to leave – that’s their business, that’s their right. We regret now that many may find themselves in a position that they would rather not be in,’ he told CBS This Morning on Thursday.  

Britain is now telling its citizens that anyone who hasn’t yet been able to get out should make a run for the border and seek refuge in Pakistan. 

Hameed Ullah, the head of the Coronavirus Health team at the Chaman border, said 18,000 people a day were crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan – 6,000 more than usual. 

Biden has promised to get every American out by August 31 but it is becoming increasingly unlikely with hundreds still scattered around the country. He is due to host a conference call with governors on Thursday at 3pm to determine where Afghan refugees will be housed.  

CNN’s source said on Thursday that 200 had been evacuated overnight, bringing the total 500 down significantly. 

The source estimated that of the 500 Blinken was talking about, there are now only 150 waiting to be evacuated. 

It remains unclear if any more citizens have been able to get in touch with the State Department since Blinken spoke. 

There are still 1,800 Afghans who worked at the US Embassy in Kabul and are waiting to be flown out but the mission is winding down on Friday, the source said.  

‘American citizens are still trickling in but their priority has shifted to local staff,’ the source said. 

The United States, Britain and Australia told their citizens in the early hours of Thursday to clear the airport over fears of a deadly car bomb blast. 

The US said that citizens outside three gates in particular should ‘leave immediately’, while Britain and Australia told anyone near the airport to clear the area entirely. 

Among those still stranded are dozens of students from a San Diego school, who flew to Afghanistan with relatives to visit family and got stuck. 

They did not all travel together but went with their families in smaller groups. One of the groups has now returned to the US, leaving 19 still stuck in Kabul. 

The bomb threat on Wednesday was given amid fears extremist group ISIS-K, the Islamic State branch based in Afghanistan, was plotting an attack with multiple car bombs by deploying recently-freed prisoners. 

A US soldier places a ‘gate closed’ on one of the crowded entrances of Kabul airport as hundreds of desperate Afghans wait to board flights earlier on Thursday The US is now working to evacuate everyone they can in the next 36 hours and will then withdraw – two days earlier than the Taliban’s 31 deadline 

Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday as the evacuation mission continues

Taliban fighters – one armed with a US standard issue M4 assault rifle – stand guard  outside Kabul airport on Wednesday

USAF personnel help Afghan refugees to board a C-17 military transport jet at Kabul airport on Tuesday

It comes as the number of evacuation flights are falling rapidly after Biden held firm to the August 31 deadline. 

Ross Wilson, the Acting US Ambassador in Afghanistan, claimed in an interview on Thursday morning that it was still ‘relatively safe’ to go to the airport, despite the growing ISIS threat before the explosion

France said it will stop flying from Kabul on Friday, Poland has already left and Holland is expected to finish today. 

Meanwhile, Britain could stop flying by tonight. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Wednesday there were up to 1,500 Americans still trapped in Afghanistan and that 500 had been in touch with the government to ask for help getting to the airport. 

Since then, 350 have been evacuated, according to CNN, which leaves just 150 of the 500 the government knows about still waiting to be rescued.    

British armed forces minister James Heappey this morning warned there is ‘very credible reporting’ of an ‘imminent’ and ‘severe’ threat to the airport.

The former British Army Major told LBC radio he had been given ‘lines today for what might happen if the attack happened while I was doing this media round.’

Heappey added: ‘I don’t think everybody should be surprised by this, Daesh, or Islamic State, are guilty of all sorts of evil.

Troubling video showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country via the Pakistan border. The footage shows a huge crowd of people at Spin Boldak, a southern village on the border with Pakistan, queuing up at the border gates

The State Department tweeted last night: ‘Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so. 

‘Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.’ 

‘We won’t get everyone out even by Sept 11’: Democrat and Republican lawmakers pay secret trip to Kabul 

Two US military vets who now serve as congressmen flew unannounced into Afghanistan to monitor the on going evacuation efforts as they called on President Joe Biden to extend the US withdrawal deadline past August 31. 

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, flew in and out of Kabul airport on Tuesday, with both men adding that they boarded return flights with empty seats so as not to take away space from fleeing Americans and Afghans. 

They appeared to condemn Joe Biden over his chaotic withdrawal from the war-torn country, and predicted the US would not be able to airlift everyone eligible to leave Afghanistan on time.  

 In a joint statement, they said: ‘It’s obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11.

‘Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.’

The order to leave the gates was issued at 3:30am local time in Kabul on Thursday morning. 

It came as a 345-seat evacuation flight organized by a Washington DC-based philanthropist left Kabul Airport almost empty because its intended passengers could not get past the Taliban.

The jet – laid on by George Abi-Habib, co-founder of development firm Sayara International, had just 50 of passengers in its cabin, amid fears terrorists are now plotting a car bomb attack against Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport. 

One of the passengers had to crawl through a sewage pipe just to make it into the airport, he told The Wall Street Journal. 

‘We can’t expect everyone to crawl through a sewer pipe to safety,’ Abi-Habib said.

Another of Abi-Habib’s 240-seat charter flights heading to Ukraine left with 70 seats empty after U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let passengers through to board the aircraft. 

‘It’s total chaos,’ said Warren Binford, a law professor at the University of Colorado who has been working on evacuation efforts. 

‘What’s happening is that we’re seeing a massive underground railroad operation where, instead of running for decades, it’s literally running for a matter of hours, or days.’

Thousands of people are still trying to leave Afghanistan as U.S. troops start leaving and evacuation flights begin to wrap up, but are being stopped and beaten by insurgents on their way.

Among those left are 23 school children from California Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents who visited the war zone on a summer trip to see extended family and haven’t been able to leave. 

Erik Prince, founder of controversial private military firm Blackwater, was selling seats on a plane out of Afghanistan for $6,500.  

The desperation to get on the last flights is already plain, with people standing in sewage up to their knees on the south side of the airport today while begging soldiers to let them inside.   

Many Afghans fear a repeat of the brutal five-year Taliban regime that was toppled in 2001, and violent retribution for working with foreign militaries, Western missions and the previous U.S.-backed government.

Washington and its allies have been flying out thousands of such Afghans every day on hulking military transports, but it has become an increasingly difficult and desperate task.

Speaking on Tuesday, Biden confirmed that in the past 12 hours, 19 U.S. military flights evacuated approximately 6,400 people and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul. 

A White House official told CNN yesterday that the number of Americans remaining in Afghanistan as of August 14 was ‘probably lower than most people believe’, but declined to confirm exactly how many remain in the country.

Though officials believe that thousands of Americans and their Allies remain in the Afghan capital, the New York Times reports. 

The Afghan capital’s airport has been gripped by chaos as US-led troops try to maintain a secure perimeter for evacuation flights, surrounded by desperate Afghans.

Some have foreign passports, visas or eligibility to travel, but most do not. At least eight people have died in the chaos.

‘Does anyone … ANYONE … have a contact inside the airport,’ pleaded one American on a WhatsApp group set up to share information on how people can access the airport.

‘My guy worked for us 2010-15 and needs to get out with 5 of his family. This is real bad.’

The Taliban have also been accused of blocking or slowing access for many trying to reach the airport, although they denied the charge again late Tuesday.

Biden said the Taliban were taking steps to assist, but there was also an ‘acute and growing risk’ of an attack by the regional chapter of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Speaking yesterday, the President said he had asked the Pentagon and the State Department to develop contingency plans to push past the deadline should that prove necessary.

The Democratic president, whose administration has been under fire for its handling of the pullout, said U.S. forces had now helped evacuate 87,900 people since Aug. 14.  

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, flew in and out of Kabul airport on Tuesday, with both men adding that they boarded return flights with empty seats so as not to take away space from fleeing Americans and Afghans.  

Afghanistan’s chilling new face of terror: ‘ISIS-K’ slaughter patients in their hospital beds, bomb girls schools… and see the Taliban as far too liberal. Their latest victory? Joe Biden is running scared of them, writes GUY ADAMS

Dressed in white coats and carrying stethoscopes, three young men walked unchallenged into Kabul’s 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital and made their way to the upper floors.

Then, outside the building, situated opposite the heavily fortified US Embassy, there was a loud bang.

The noise, from the detonating suicide vest of a comrade, acted as a signal for the trio to pull a selection of hand grenades and AK-47 assault rifles from beneath their medical clothing, before opening fire.

By the time the chaos had died down, several hours later, more than 30 doctors and patients had been killed and roughly 50 more wounded.

Further casualties included the three attackers, who were shot by Afghan special forces, plus the original suicide bomber, and a fifth member of the terror gang who had detonated a car bomb inside the hospital complex.

A former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan (middle) led ISIS-K until he was killed by a drone strike in 2016

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia

Their brazen and pitiless attack, which unfolded in broad daylight one afternoon in March 2017, was carried out in the name of ISIS-K, a local branch of the notorious global terror network.

Founded in 2015, its followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia.

The terror group is now such a threat that fear of an attack by Isis-K is being used to justify the US’s refusal to delay its withdrawal from Kabul Airport after the August 31 deadline set by Joe Biden.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, the US President claimed: ‘Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.’

The White House seems to believe ISIS-K (who regard the Taliban as dangerous liberals) is about to organise a wave of attacks in an effort to destabilise its efforts to form a government.

If so, then any foreign troops, including soldiers from Britain’s 16 Air Assault Brigade currently guarding Kabul airport, would represent very high-profile targets indeed.

The organisation has already carried out roughly 100 attacks against civilian targets and another 250 involving US, Afghan or Pakistani security services, most of them chronicled via macabre mobile phone videos then gleefully broadcast via the internet.

One particularly vile film, circulated in June 2017, celebrated the work of a group of child recruits to ISIS-K known as the ‘cubs of the caliphates’.

The film showed two of them – both dressed in black and seemingly under 12 years of age – forcing terrified captives to kneel on the ground.

They proceeded to pull back the heads of the men (who were apparently accused of spying), rant at the camera and execute them via a single shot to the skull.

ISIS-K published this photo in an effort to project unity and strength just days before hundreds of fighters admitted defeat and surrendered

More recently, in May this year, ISIS-K killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Kabul.

The vast majority of the victims were young pupils the Islamist group regard as legitimate targets for the sin of being educated while being female.

The attack, which came after a period in which Western air strikes had killed thousands of the terror network’s supporters and at least three of its leaders, served as a bloody reminder of its ongoing ability to bring carnage to the streets of Afghanistan.

The very fact that a US President is admitting that his policy is being governed by a perceived threat from ISIS-K represents a major coup for a hitherto fairly low-profile organisation.

It first made headlines in January 2016, when the Pentagon announced that the group had been designated as a Foreign Terrorist organisation.

This made assisting them a criminal offence and allowed US troops on the ground to actively pursue members (under previous terms of engagement they usually had to wait until the group attacked them before responding)

The organisation’s chosen first Emir, or leader, was a former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan.

His foot-soldiers were largely people who had defected from the Taliban as was his canny PR chief, Sheikh Maqbool, who was charged with ensuring that the group’s grisly attacks gained worldwide attention.

They were appointed at the behest of ISIS’s (then) top dog Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was facing difficulties in his stomping grounds of Syria and Iraq, so began funnelling cash to Khan in order to establish a new stronghold in the East.

Initially, their activities were limited to suicide bombings and small arms attacks targeting civilians, along with the odd kidnapping, but that was enough to prompt close attention from the US, who succeeded in killing Khan via a drone strike in July 2016.

His successor Abdul Hasib masterminded the hospital attack mentioned above, and was famed for both ordering fighters to behead local elders in front of their families, and to kidnap women and girls so they could be forced to ‘marry’ his fighters, that is, become sex slaves.

He perished in a special forces raid on his compound in which two US troops died in April 2017.

Later that month, the US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal – a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) also known as the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ – on a key ISIS-K cave and tunnel system in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Around 100 of their troops perished.

A series of drone strikes then wiped out both of Hasib’s successors, Abu Sayed and Abu Saad Orakzai, and roughly 80 per cent of the group’s troops, reducing their estimated strength from between three and four thousand to under 800 followers by the end of 2018.

Yet like so many militant groups in the benighted history of Afghanistan, they have since proved almost impossible to eliminate completely.

The deaths of successive leaders have ended up being largely symbolic, since they have been quickly replaced by experienced peers shipped in from other ISIS strongholds.

New foot-soldiers have been recruited via slick propaganda videos outlining its global aspirations to create an Islamist caliphate across Asia, governed by Sharia law, before eventually ‘[raising] the banner of al-Uqab above Jerusalem and the White House. 

This ambition equates to the defeat of both Israel and the United States (and therefore the imposition of their twisted view of life on those countries).

The group’s current leader is believed to be Shahab al-Muhajir, also known as Sanaullah.

A United Nations report published in February said that he took over in June 2020.

The communiqué announcing the appointment, written in Arabic and translated into Pashto, referred to al-Muhajir as an experienced military leader and one of the ‘urban lions’ of ISIL-K in Kabul who had been ‘involved in guerrilla operations and the planning of suicide and complex attacks.’

While Sanaullah’s reign may be bad news for Afghans, he’s currently thought to have little to no capacity for mounting terror attacks in the West.

He is instead focusing on a mission to rid Afghanistan and other parts of its home territory of foreign ‘crusaders’ who ‘proselytize Muslims’ as well as ‘apostates’.

That in turn may explain why America is so anxious to withdraw from Kabul: once US troops are home, they are no longer in his organisation’s firing line.

For the Afghans left behind, escaping ISIS-K’s reign of terror will not be nearly so simple.  

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