CLAIM: President Joe Biden claimed that he would pursue Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to the “gates of Hell.”
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. John McCain said that, not Biden, who opposed the bin Laden raid. Biden used the phrase for ISIS.
In a nationally-televised address from the White House on Wednesday, President Biden announced that the U.S. would pull all troops out of Afghanistan by Sep. 11, 2021 — twenty years after the 9/11 terror attacks planned by bin Laden from the country, then under Taliban control. (It was also a goal President Donald Trump had committed to achieve by May 1, 2021, the tenth anniversary of the mission that killed bin Laden.)
Biden’s remarks, billed by the White House (without irony) as the “way forward in Afghanistan,” said (emphasis added):
I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that. We accomplished that objective.
I said, among — with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be. That’s exactly what we did, and we got him. It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama’s commitment to — into form. And that’s exactly what happened; Osama bin Laden was gone.
That was 10 years ago. Think about that. We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since. Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved.
It was McCain, who ran against Obama and Biden in 2008, who was well-known for his “gates of Hell” promise:
Biden, notably, opposed the daring raid by Navy Seals that succeeded in taking out the Al Qaeda leader in 2011.
He later recalled telling Obama: “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”
Biden then used — or copied — the phrase in 2014, when vowing to pursue the so-called “Islamic State,” or ISIS (referred to, doggedly, as ISIL by the Obama administration.
“When people harm Americans we don’t retreat, we don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving and when that’s finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside,” Biden said in New Hampshire.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.