The US will never waver in its commitment to prevent another terror attack on the country and to keep the American people safe, President Joe Biden has vowed, as he marked the 10th anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The al Qaeda leader who evaded justice for 10 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 met his end in a covert raid by US special operations forces on May 1, 2011 in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad.
In a statement on Sunday, Biden, then Vice President, recalled that he joined President Barack Obama and members of the national security team, crowded into the Situation Room of the White House in 2011 to watch as the US military delivered long-awaited justice to bin Laden.
“It is a moment I will never forget,” Biden said, while praising the intelligence professionals who had painstakingly tracked bin Laden down; the clarity and conviction of President Obama in making the call; the courage and skill of the American team on the ground.
“It had been almost ten years since our nation was attacked on 9/11 and we went to war in Afghanistan, pursuing al Qaeda and its leaders. We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell and we got him.
“We kept the promise to all those who lost loved ones on 9/11: that we would never forget those we had lost, and that the United States will never waver in our commitment to prevent another attack on our homeland and to keep the American people safe,” the president said.
Biden noted that as a result of the efforts taken the US, his administration was bringing to an end the country’s longest war and draw down the last of the American troops from Afghanistan where al Qaeda is now a “greatly degraded” terror group.
The US and NATO formally began withdrawing their last troops from Afghanistan on Saturday, according to White House and military officials.
President Biden set May 1, 2021 as the official date on which the remaining troops would begin pulling out, although the military has been flying equipment out of the country in recent weeks, according to US media reports.
There are between 2,500-3,500 US troops and about 7,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) soldiers remaining in Afghanistan, the last of whom will leave the war-torn country by the end of September.
Under a deal signed last year between the Taliban militants and the administration of former president Donald Trump, foreign forces were to have left by May 1 while the Taliban held off attacking international troops.
Biden last month pushed back the May 1 pullout, saying some troops would stay on until September 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, citing the security situation.
In his statement on Sunday, Biden said the US will “remain vigilant about the threat from terrorist groups that have metastasized around the world. We will continue to monitor and disrupt any threat to us that emerges from Afghanistan,” he said.
Biden said the US will work to counter terrorist threats to “our homeland and our interests in cooperation with allies and partners around the world.”
Some 2,442 American troops have been killed, according to the US Defense Department, along with an estimated 3,800 US private security contractors. Over 1,140 troops from NATO countries have been killed.
The US is estimated to have spent over USD 2 trillion in Afghanistan during the course of the war, according to the Costs of War project.
The US and NATO allies entered Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, to find the al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US who were being protected by the Taliban leaders in Kabul.
Two months later, al Qaeda leader bin Laden and his fighters were on the run. The world’s most-wanted terrorist was finally located and killed in 2011 by US Navy SEALS in Pakistan.