WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday remembered the thousands of people killed 18 years ago on Sept. 11 and warned that any other terrorist who comes to the United States would be met with a force “the likes of which the United States has never used before.”
Mr. Trump delivered his remarks at the Pentagon just days after canceling peace talks with the Taliban, the group that ruled Afghanistan in 2001 and provided a haven for Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that hijacked planes and flew them into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center in New York and a field in Pennsylvania.
“If for any reason, they come back to our country, we will go to wherever they are, and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before,” Mr. Trump said, though it was not clear if he was referring to terrorists in general or specifically to the Taliban, who never attacked Americans while inside the United States. “And I’m not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.”
The president said he canceled the meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David after learning an American soldier and 11 other people were killed in an attack in Kabul on Sept. 5. Critics had seized on the appearance of holding the talks at Camp David so close to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
During his remarks at the Pentagon, where 184 people were killed, Mr. Trump told his own Sept. 11 story, recalling what he was doing in New York that sunny day in 2001. He was watching a business television channel, he said, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. He said he later went to ground zero with some of the men who worked for him. A retired deputy chief with the New York Fire Department, however, has said Mr. Trump was not someone he saw that day as people rushed into burning buildings to rescue people trapped inside.
Shortly after the attacks, Mr. Trump was asked what he would do if he were president. He said he would “take a hard line on this,” and incorrectly added that with the fall of the World Trade Center, one of his buildings was now the tallest in the city.
Before their visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, the president and the first lady, Melania Trump, held a moment of silence on the south lawn of the White House.
In New York on Wednesday, at ground zero, families who lost loved ones when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center gathered as bells tolled and victims’ names were read aloud. In Shanksville, Pa., Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the memorial service, honoring the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a rural field.
Last year, Mr. Trump visited the Shanksville memorial.