Biden announces troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Biden pays tribute to special forces who killed Osama bin Laden on 10th anniversary of raid

Then-vice president had advised Obama against carrying out the raid until they could be sure the al Qaeda leader was in the compound

Gino Spocchia
Sunday 02 May 2021 20:27
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Joe Biden praised the “courage and skill” of US special forces who carried out the raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, in remarks marking the 10th anniversary of the former al Qaeda leader’s death.

Bin Laden was shot dead by a team of Navy Seals in a secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011.

Mr Biden, who was then vice president, was in the White House’s Situation Room watching US special forces carry out the raid along with former president Barack Obama.

In a statement released on Sunday, the US president described the moment as one “I will never forget,” and praised “the service members who executed the raid at great personal risk”.

“It had been almost 10 years since our nation was attacked on 9/11 and we went to war in Afghanistan, pursuing al Qaeda and its leaders,” said Mr Biden. “We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell — and we got him. “

Offering praise of Mr Obama, the president continued by saying that “We kept the promise to all those who lost loved ones on 9/11” 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 anniversary comes a day after US forces formally began to withdraw from Afghanistan, as announced by Mr Biden, who described the conflict as a “forever war”, a fortnight ago.

“Now, as a result of those efforts,” said the president of the bin Laden killing, “as we bring to an end America’s longest war and draw down the last of our troops from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda is greatly degraded there.”

The 1 May start date for America’s withdrawal follows a former agreement between Afghan forces, an insurgent Taliban, and the administration of Donald Trump.

By 11 September — the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that catapulted the US into war with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq — no American or Nato forces will remain in the country.

Mr Obama, who oversaw the bin Laden raid in 2011, wrote in a 2020 memoir that not everyone in his administration had agreed with the operation — including Mr Biden,.

"Joe also weighed in against the raid, arguing that given the enormous consequences of failure, I should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound," Mr Obama wrote.

“[I] appreciated Joe's willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations," Mr Obama added in the book.

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