Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday repeatedly referred to the Afghanistan-based Islamic State affiliate ISIS-K as “ISIS-X,” and warned that the situation would get worse after the terrorist group’s attacks in Kabul.
The group was behind a pair of fatal attacks on Thursday at a security checkpoint leading to Hami Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Some 13 U.S. service members and at least 60 Afghans were killed in the attacks, in what marked the deadliest day for American troops since August 2011.
ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, while the “K” stands for Khorasan, a historical region called Greater Khorasan that includes portions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. ISIS-K is made up mainly of Afghans and Pakistan, some of whom used to be part of the Taliban itself, but left after the death of the founder of the Taliban Founder Mullah Mohammad Omar in 2013, forming their own splinter group.
“[The Taliban] are good fighters. But now they can be much better because they have the best equipment in the world, and so much of it, they don’t know what to do,” Trump told Fox News in a phone-in interview.
“They will be selling it on the open market. But we gave that to these people, and ISIS-X, as you know, I knocked out 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate. I knocked it out in Syria, Iraq, we knocked it out, so now they have a new ISIS called ISIS-X, and that’s members of the Taliban that are far more vicious because they don’t like the way the Taliban is behaving because they’re not vicious enough.”
The former president attacked the Biden administration’s “stupidity” regarding how the Afghanistan withdrawal was carried out. He later corrected himself by referring to ISIS-K before making the gaffe again.
“So this is Taliban fighters that are much more vicious and we’re using the Taliban and giving lists of Americans to the Taliban so now you just knock on the door and grab them and take them out. This country has never seen stupidity right this and our country is really in trouble. Our country is really in trouble. And it’s only going to get worse,” Trump said.
The former Republican president said that under his leadership, the Taliban “would have been very happy to let us go and take every American and everybody else we wanted, and take our equipment.”
He criticized President Joe Biden for taking out the military before evacuating civilians, calling it “beyond embarrassment” and “a very dangerous day for our country.”
Trump then attempted to cover up his gaffe.
“They have people, as I said, that broke away because they weren’t–because the Taliban wasn’t mean enough and vicious enough. And that’s the new ISIS-X, where they broke away, or ISIS-K. They’ll have an ISIS-X pretty soon, which is going to be worse than ISIS-K.”
Newsweek has contacted Trump for comment.
Addressing the perpetrators of the attacks on Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden said at the White House: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”