New York (AFP) – President Donald Trump pledged to hit the Taliban “harder” than ever as America on Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that led the country into war in Afghanistan.
Trump’s remarks came after he aborted what would have been a historic Afghanistan peace summit, and as relatives remembered the victims of the deadliest terror attacks on US soil at ceremonies in New York and Washington.
Trump spoke at a Pentagon event honoring the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks — announcing an unprecedented escalation of the military assault on the Taliban.
He said that over “the last four days,” US forces have “hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before and that will continue.”
The nature of the offensive was not immediately clear, but Trump said it was ordered after he canceled peace talks with the Taliban over the weekend in retaliation for a bomb attack that killed one US soldier last week.
He also warned militants against ever carrying out an attack in the US again.
“If for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are, and use power, the likes of which the United States has never used before,” Trump said.
“I’m not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them,” he added.
The warlike comments came as Al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks, released a video calling for assaults on American, European, Israeli and Russian interests.
The militant group’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri criticized “backtrackers” from jihad in the 33-minute video, according to Site Intelligence Group.
Trump announced on Twitter Saturday that he’d been about to meet leaders of the Taliban — who harbored Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan — on Sunday at his Camp David presidential retreat.
The announcement angered some, coming so close to the September 11, 2001 anniversary.
Relatives of victims, survivors, police officers, firefighters and city leaders held a ceremony Wednesday at Ground Zero where planes hijacked by Al-Qaeda operatives brought down the Twin Towers.