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On 9/11 anniversary, Biden recalls American unity and vows vigilance


U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a wreath-laying ceremony to honor victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2022.

Cheriss May | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the memory of America’s united response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by al Qaeda and vowed to “never surrender” within the face of terrorist threats in a solemn commemoration on Sunday on the Pentagon.

Biden’s remarks about national unity on the twenty first anniversary of the attacks stood in contrast to his warnings in recent days about dangerous divisions in American society, including that some Republicans who support former President Donald Trump’s agenda pose a threat to democracy.

“I hope we’ll do not forget that within the midst of those dark days, we dug deep. We cared for one another. And we got here together,” Biden said, as rain fell on troops standing behind him, flanking his defense secretary and top general.

Nearly 3,000 people died within the attacks, when al Qaeda hijackers flew planes into Recent York’s World Trade Center towers and into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, while a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

Passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 overcame the hijackers and the plane crashed in a field, stopping one other goal from being hit.

The anniversary comes a 12 months after Biden ended the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, launched twenty years ago to root out the al Qaeda militant group that carried out the 9/11 attacks after plotting them from Afghanistan.

Biden’s chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops last 12 months and the resulting rapid fall of the country to the Taliban drew criticism from members of each political parties.

But Biden vowed that the fight against terrorism would proceed. “We is not going to rest. We’ll always remember. We’ll never surrender,” he said.

Last month, Biden authorized a drone strike in Kabul that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head and helped to coordinate the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The disclosure of Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul raised questions on the degree to which al Qaeda is receiving sanctuary from the Taliban.

U.S. military and intelligence officials had warned that an entire U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could allow al Qaeda in addition to Islamic State to strengthen and, left unchecked, to eventually plot against the USA.

Biden and others argued that the threat from terrorism has spread throughout the world over the past 21 years, and that there are higher ways to combat it than open-ended military deployments and war.

“Our commitment to forestall one other attack on the USA is with no end in sight,” Biden assured.

The primary lady, Jill Biden, attended a ceremony in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning, while Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended one in Recent York City.

In Recent York, key moments on 9/11, resembling the times at which each tower of the World Trade Center fell, were marked with a moment of silence after the tolling of a bell.

Families of victims of the 9/11 attacks have waited for years to see several of the people accused of planning and assisting the hijackers dropped at trial and convicted, including self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 4 others imprisoned on the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On Sunday, Biden told reporters that “yes, there may be a plan for that” — to carry the accused plotters accountable — but declined to comment further.

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