Biden administration applauds Taliban strike on ISIS while abandoning US citizens in Sudan

"[T]his administration seems much more interested in welcoming foreign nationals across our open southern border and providing them with all sorts of aid and comfort than they are in actually helping our own citizens who are in a war zone," said former Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates.

Published: April 25, 2023 11:58pm

Updated: April 26, 2023 12:05am

The Biden administration is applauding the Taliban's reported killing of the Islamic State militant behind the 2021 Kabul airport suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members as a win for American security and a vindication of President Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal — even as the administration declined to evacuate American civilians caught in the deadly Sudanese civil war.

The Aug. 26, 2021 bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul killed 11 U.S. Marines, one Navy sailor, and one Army trooper. A further 18 service members sustained injuries, and more than 150 civilians died in the attack, which occurred amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban reconquest of the country.

A "senior administration official" confirmed Tuesday that the attack's "mastermind" had been killed in a Taliban operation with which the U.S. had no involvement. The official went on to suggest that the Islamic militant group's successful dispatch of a militant who killed U.S. troops was a kind of vindication of President Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan

"We view this operation as emblematic of a landscape in Afghanistan," the official said. "It has become very challenging for terrorists, like ISIS-K, who might seek to engage in the type of external plotting that could harm Americans. Regardless of who carried out the operation, the fact that this result was achieved, and this person who's had American blood on his hands is himself no longer on the battlefield and able to perpetrate further violence, we think that is development worth communicating to grieving families."

The official told Fox News the Taliban operation "reflects the president's judgment that we did not need to remain on the ground in harm's way in Afghanistan in perpetuity in order to effectively address any terrorist threats to us."

Former CIA Open Source Center Director George Beebe differed from the administration's assessment, concluding that the Taliban merely see ISIS as an irritant and threat to their power, saying "this is a situation where they've targeted an organization that both the United States and the Taliban find problematic ... I think it's as simple as that. We we both see ISIS as an as an organization that poses a threat to our respective national interests."

Beebe made the remarks Tuesday on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show.

Roughly concurrent with news of the ISIS leader's demise was the Biden administration's military evacuation of American diplomatic staff from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, which has descended into civil war. The military successfully evacuated all personnel to neighboring Djibouti.

"I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety," Biden said of the operation.

The roughly 16,000 private citizens stuck in the country, however, have been left to fend for themselves. The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said that "it is not currently safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens."

Beebe said that such a decision to ignore U.S. citizens in a crisis zone represented an "unusual situation," noting that such evacuations have "been fairly common."

"The fact that we're not doing it in Sudan ... that's a departure from the norm," he said. "And I suspect that it has a lot to do with what happened in Afghanistan. That bungled evacuation effort is something that I don't think the Biden administration wants to see repeated and is quite concerned that there might be that kind of an optic in Sudan.

"And so rather than risk that, I think they're saying to U.S. nationals, you know, 'You're on your own to find a way out.'"

In 2021, the Biden administration oversaw a chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces and personnel from Afghanistan after 20 years of armed conflict with the Taliban. That operation came amid a rapid Taliban offensive that routed the forces of the U.S.-backed Islamic Republic. The disastrous collapse of the U.S. effort to democratize Afghanistan and the lethal consequences of the botched evacuation precipitated a sharp drop in Biden's approval ratings, from which he has not recovered.

Former Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates addressed the plight of U.S. citizens marooned in Sudan Monday on "Just the News, No Noise."

"[T]his is not something that should be happening, literally again," she lamented. "The couple of times I was involved in situations like this in the Trump administration, where you could see a problem potentially coming, we would have meetings for weeks to plan out where assets were, how you're going to move people, how you're going to identify American citizens in the region."

She cited the Trump-era move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as an example of potential trouble averted by foresight and preparation. 

In contrast, "it just seems like the Biden administration was caught completely flat-footed" in Sudan, she said. "And now we have some 16,000 — both American citizens and dual citizens — in a country where there's basically no internet access anymore and a great deal of violence going on, and this could spiral badly, quickly."

Calling the recurrent failures of the Biden administration to prepare for humanitarian crises overseas "deeply, deeply concerning," Coates said, "[I]t's the surprise that keeps happening, that we have no idea that this is going to happen.

"Sudan has been basically in a state of crisis since 2021. And, you know, as I said, these are American citizens. We have a basic responsibility for them wherever they are around the globe. And this administration seems much more interested in welcoming foreign nationals across our open southern border and providing them with all sorts of aid and comfort than they are in actually helping our own citizens who are in a war zone."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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