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Twitter users blasted National Security Council coordinator John Kirby Tuesday for his response to a question about whether pulling out from Afghanistan last year left it vulnerable to terrorists.
The press conference followed the White House announcement on Monday that the CIA successfully killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri during a drone strike in Afghanistan.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy questioned Kirby on whether the decision to pull out of Afghanistan in 2021 led to the nation once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists like al-Zawahri.
“So we know that the Taliban was harboring the world’s most wanted terrorists. You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people who are on the FBI Most Wanted list. What did you think was going to happen?” Doocy asked.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, April 29, 2022.
( (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta))
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“I take issue with the premise we gave a whole country to a terrorist group,” Kirby responded.
Social media users attacked Kirby for scoffing at the impact of the Afghanistan pullout.
“Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal literally handed Afghanistan to terrorists,” Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde tweeted.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., agreed tweeting, “The Biden Administration quite literally gave a whole country to terrorist groups.”
Conservative commentator Katie Pavlich wrote, “Afghanistan is run and controlled by the Taliban. The Taliban was harboring Ayman al-Zawahiri. This morning, Kirby told CNN Al Qaeda is actively using Afghanistan as a safe harbor to plan attacks.”
Taliban fighters guard at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 18, 2022. Several explosions and gunfire ripped through a Sikh temple in Afghanistan’s capital.
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
“Kirby can spin all he wants now, but that’s not what Biden said last year when he told Americans that Al Qaeda was ‘gone’ from Afghanistan,” Townhall.com managing editor Spencer Brown wrote.
Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden tweeted, “John Kirby can ‘take issue’ with the fact that Biden gave Afghanistan to terrorists, but that does not change the fact that they did. Don’t forget, they also gave them $80+B worth of the most sophisticated military equipment in the world.”
Kirby was also criticized for repeating former White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s talking points that the Taliban “have a choice” now.
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“The Taliban have a choice now. They always did, but they certainly have a new choice. And that is they can comply with their agreement, comply with their commitments to the Doha agreement or they can choose to keep going down a different path and if they go down a different path it’s going to lead to consequences,” Kirby said.
“Wow: John Kirby echoing Jen Psaki from almost exactly a year ago,” The Heritage Foundation’s John Cooper tweeted. “Seriously, this is absurd. This is Psaki a year trying to shame a terrorist group into caring about public opinion, and here comes Kirby doing the same thing, as if it will work this time,” he said while quoting Psaki saying on August 11, 2021, “The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community.”
Taliban fighters stand guard next to a Taliban flag during a gathering where Afghan Hazara elders pledged their support to the country’s new Taliban rulers, in Kabul on November 25, 2021.
(AREF KARIMI/AFP via Getty Images)
“They already made their d*mn choice,” conservative Twitter personality Noam Blum tweeted.
“It’s been a year and an entire presidency turned upside down, but somehow the Biden administration hasn’t managed to learn ANYTHING from Afghanistan,” Republican communicator Matt Whitlock wrote.
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Kirby joined the White House communications team in May.
Lindsay Kornick is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @lmkornick.