George W. Bush Condemns 'Violent Extremists at Home' in 9/11 Speech

On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Saturday, former President George W. Bush condemned "violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home."

While honoring victims of the tragedy at the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania—where United Flight 93 crashed after it was hijacked on September 11, 2001—Bush spoke of "the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within," in a reference to domestic terrorism in the U.S.

His remarks come eight months after the January 6 insurrection in which a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building as congressional lawmakers were in the process of certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. Five people died in the incident.

"There is little culture overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home," Bush said in his remarks.

"But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them," he added.

After the 9/11 attacks, Bush led the U.S. into the War in Afghanistan in October 2001 that ousted the Taliban from power at the time, and the Iraq War in 2003. Last month, U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, ending the 20-year conflict.

"The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability," he said. "In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people."

He said that U.S. citizens found it difficult to understand "when an enemy would hate with such zeal" and added that the country's adjustments "have been profound."

On Saturday, President Biden praised Bush's speech and pointed out that the core of Americans "is not divided," referring to the former president's call for unity when he was honoring the victims of 9/11.

"I think that [former] President Bush did a really good speech, a genuinely good speech about who we are," Biden said.

President Biden: "President Bush made a really good speech today, genuinely good speech about who we are."

— The Hill (@thehill) September 11, 2021

Last month, Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, saying that he "was not going to extend this forever war."

"We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. It was time to end this war," Biden said then.

On Saturday, former President Donald Trump used his remarks about the 9/11 anniversary to criticize Biden's handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

"The leader of our country was made to look like a fool, and that can never be allowed to happen," Trump said."The loss of 13 great warriors [at the Kabul airport attack] and the many more who were wounded should never have happened.

"$85 billion dollars of the finest and most sophisticated military equipment [was taken] without even a shot being fired," he added.

Trump also criticized the preparations leading up to the withdrawal, saying that it was "bad planning, incredible weakness, and leaders who truly didn't understand what was happening."

Updated 3:32 PM ET, with Biden's comment on Bush's speech.

George Bush speech 9/11
Former US President George W. Bush pauses as he speaks during a 9/11 commemoration at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2021. - America marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Saturday with solemn ceremonies given added poignancy by the recent chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and return to power of the Taliban. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images