Leaders of Afghanistan’s Islamic extremist Taliban organization were set to arrive in the United States at the invitation of Donald Trump on Saturday night, just days before the U.S. was set to mark the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. But Trump claims that he rescinded the invitation at the last moment after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 others in the Afghan capital of Kabul, according to a CNN report.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan in 2001 and provided refuge for the Al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by the late Saudi Arabian radical Osama bin Laden, which carried out the September 11 attacks. After earlier terror attacks in the U.S. targeted by Al Qaeda suicide bombers, the U.S. government pressed the Taliban to kick bin Laden out of the country more than 30 times, before the September 11 attacks, according to the information posted by The National Security Archive.
On Saturday, Trump took to his Twitter account to make the announcement of the secret Taliban visit. “Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday,” Trump wrote.
But Trump then added that he had canceled the Taliban visit, as a result of Thursday’s car bombing in Kabul, stating in a Twitter post, “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”
The Trump administration has been involved in peace talks with the Taliban for weeks, and on Monday, U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced that the sides had reached a peace agreement “in principle,” in which the U.S. would withdraw 5,400 troops of the 14,000 in the country over a 20-week period, according to a BBC report.
But the U.S. soldier who died in the Thursday attack was the fourth American servicemember killed in Afghanistan in just the past two weeks, according to a Time report. Just four days before the Thursday attack, the Taliban had also claimed responsibility for a bombing attack that killed 16 people and wounded 100, mostly civilians.
And just hours after the attack that killed the U.S. servicemember, another Taliban attack at an Afghan military base killed four and wounded four more.
Even as peace negotiations with the U.S. have continued, the Taliban has refused any call for a cease-fire, according to a report by the Middle Eastern news agency Al Jazeera.
As recently as July of this year, the Taliban had issued public statement blaming the 9/11 attacks on U.S. “interventionist policies,” calling the attacks a “heavy slap on their dark faces.”
The Taliban justifies al Qaeda's attack on 9/11 as follows: "This heavy slap on their dark faces was the consequence of their interventionist policies and not our doing." This is said as video of UA Flight 175 slams into the World Trade Center. From Taliban video Umari Army (6). pic.twitter.com/nCLFWQ68pT— Bill Roggio (@billroggio) July 23, 2019
Trump’s announcement that he had invited Taliban leaders to the United States was met with horror by critics within the U.S. “You brought the Taliban to the United States the week of September 11?” California House rep Eric Swalwell posted on Twitter.
“‘Invite the Taliban to Camp David for 9/11,’ they said,” wrote journalist David Leavitt on Twitter. “‘What could possibly go wrong?’ they said.”
Breathtaking. There’s always a Trump tweet, Taliban editon. pic.twitter.com/NDVidFwOGz— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2019
Former Republican House member Joe Walsh, who is running against Trump in the party’s primary elections, raised the possibility that Trump was simply making up the story of the Taliban visit, in a Twitter post.
“Either he’s lying or he was going to meet with the Taliban at Camp David three days before the 18th anniversary of 9/11,” Walsh wrote. “Either way he’s unfit and a danger to this country.”