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President Biden listens to a question after his address yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Tragically, 20 years on, America isn't near done in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: President Biden was determined to finally exit — "time to end the forever war," he said in April as he announced the U.S. would be out of Afghanistan by next month's 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Now, the U.S. must deliver on Biden's vow of retribution for yesterday's calamity at the Kabul airport gate — amid fears Afghanistan will become a renewed launch pad for terrorism against the West.

  • "Bottom line is that our work is not done in Afghanistan," Leon Panetta, SecDef and CIA director under President Obama, said on CNN. "We're going to have to go back in to get ISIS."

On top of that, at least 250,000 Afghans who worked with the U.S. have yet to be evacuated, the N.Y. Times calculates.

  • Efforts to deliver on commitments to those brave allies will go on for years, people involved in clandestine private projects tell me.

Biden told the ISIS-K terrorists are believed to be behind the twin suicide bombings, followed by an attack by gunmen, that killed at least 95 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members: "We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay." 

Satellite image: Planet Labs. Map: AP

At a Pentagon briefing, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, had said: "If we can find who's associated with this, we will go after them. ... 24/7, we are looking for them."

Panetta told CNN's Erin Burnett that U.S. counterterrorism operations must persist past Tuesday's exit deadline:

  • "We're probably going to have to go back in when al-Qaeda resurrects itself, as they will with this Taliban."
  • "[W]e can leave a battlefield, but we can't leave the war on terrorism."

McKenzie, the Central Command commander, said he expects the ISIS attacks to continue.

Photo: Asvaka News Agency via Reuters

Above: Crowds near Kabul airport on Monday.

Go deeper: U.S. relies on Taliban cooperation to complete mission in Kabul

Editors note: This headline has been updated. A previous version misattributed a quote to Biden.

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Go deeper

Updated Aug 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Taliban declare victory in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters sit on a vehicle along the street in Jalalabad province on Sunday. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Taliban leaders declared Monday "the war is over," after taking control of Afghanistan nearly 20 years on from the militant group fleeing a U.S.-led coalition march into Kabul.

Driving the news: The declaration to Al Jazeera came after the Taliban seized the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, and following the U.S. evacuation of the American Embassy on Monday. The U.S. was taking over air traffic control at Kabul's airport, where chaotic scenes were reported Monday, as foreigners and Afghan citizens attempted to flee.

Taliban won't work with U.S. to rein in extremist groups

Afghan Taliban members inspect the site of an explosion at a mosque in Kunduz on Oct. 8. Photo: Ajmal Kakar/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Taliban said on Saturday it will not work with the U.S. to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, AP reports.

Why it matters: The remarks come as a U.S. delegation meets on Saturday and Sunday with senior Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.

Aug 15, 2021 - World

Blinken: "This is manifestly not Saigon" all over again in Afghanistan

As video emerged on Sunday of military helicopters landing near the U.S. embassy in Kabul to rapidly evacuate U.S. personnel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured: "This is manifestly not Saigon."

Driving the news: Blinken made the rounds on the Sunday shows to defend President Biden's resolute withdrawal of the U.S. military as Kabul nears complete surrender to the Taliban.