Biden honors 9/11 victims, pledges to counter terrorism

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, laying a wreath at the Pentagon in a somber commemoration held in constant rain and honoring the “extraordinary Americans” who gave their lives during the one of the darkest days in the country. .

Sunday’s ceremony took place just over a year after Biden ended the long and costly war in Afghanistan that the United States and its allies launched in response to terrorist attacks.

Biden noted that even after the US leaves Afghanistan, his administration continues to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Biden announced that the United States had killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda who helped plan the September 11 attacks, in a clandestine operation.

President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Sunday.Susan Walsh/AP

“We will never forget, we will never give up,” Biden said. “Our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States is unending.”

The president was joined by family members of the victims, first responders who were at the Pentagon on the day of the attack, as well as Department of Defense leadership for the annual New York Moment of Tribute, at the Pentagon and in Somerset County. , Pennsylvania.

“We owe you incredible, incredible debt,” Biden said.

By ending the war in Afghanistan, the Democratic president delivered on his campaign promise to bring home US troops from the country’s longest conflict. But the war ended chaotically in August 2021, when the US-backed Afghan government collapsed, a gruesome bombing killed 170 Afghans and 13 US troops at Kabul airport, and thousands Desperate Afghans gathered in hopes of escaping before the last American cargo planes departed. the Hindu Kush.

Biden celebrated the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month in a low-key fashion. He issued a statement honoring the 13 U.S. soldiers killed in the Kabul airport bombing and spoke by phone with U.S. veterans helping ongoing efforts to resettle Afghans who have contributed to the war effort.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday criticized Biden’s handling of the end of the war and noted that the country had crumbled under renewed Taliban rule since the US withdrawal.

“Now, a year after last August’s disaster, the devastating scale of the fallout from President Biden’s decision has become clearer,” McConnell said. “Afghanistan has become a global pariah. Its economy has shrunk by almost a third. Half of its population now suffers from critical levels of food insecurity.

First Lady Jill Biden will speak at the National Flight 93 Memorial Celebration in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on Sunday. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband attended a commemoration ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial in New York.

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