President Biden plans to order lethal force against the ISIS-K terrorists responsible for carrying out suicide bombings that killed U.S. service members at Kabul’s airport, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated on Friday.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki to clarify what Biden meant following his pledge to act against ISIS-K, the Islamic State offshoot that claimed responsibility for the bombings. At least 13 U.S. service members were killed in the attack.
“When the president says, ‘We will hunt you down and make you pay,’ what does that look like? Is he going to order a mission to kill the people responsible, or would he be satisfied if they are captured and brought to trial?” Doocy asked.
“I think he made clear yesterday that he did not want them to live on the Earth anymore,” Psaki responded.
During his speech from the White House, Biden said he asked top military commanders “to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities” in response to the attacks. He did not say when the retaliatory strikes would occur, noting only that the U.S. military would respond “with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose, in the moment of our choosing.”
Doocy pressed Psaki to reveal whether the Biden administration planned to “bring known terrorists” within the Taliban to justice prior to the permanent withdrawal of U.S. forces on Aug. 31. The White House has coordinated evacuation operations with the Taliban, which now controls most of Afghanistan.
“Our focus right now is on doing everything we can to get the remaining American citizens who want to depart out of the country, to get our Afghan partners out of the country,” Psaki added. “This is not a preferred relationship or a situation that we would have designed if we had started from scratch. I think that’s very clear. But right now, we need to continue to coordinate.”
Psaki also maintained the White House’s stance that it will have a “great deal of leverage” to ensure that the Taliban complies with international standards once the U.S. withdrawal is complete.
“The Taliban are going to want a functioning airport – so do we. There is an enormous amount of economic leverage that the global community has. That’s something that we need to work with our international partners on,” she added.