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Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 19, 2021. (AP) Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 19, 2021. (AP)

Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 19, 2021. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 20, 2021

No proof Biden left Taliban $80B in weapons, or that he wants Americans’ pistols

If Your Time is short

  • There has been no accounting of how much military equipment was left in Afghanistan after U.S. troops withdrew and the Taliban resumed control of the country.

  • One expert says aircraft and other military equipment are likely worth less than $10 billion.

  • Biden has not called for taking away 9-millimeter pistols from Americans.

A popular take on Facebook is that the Biden administration, with its withdrawal from Afghanistan, in effect armed the Taliban and yet, wants to take handguns away from Americans. 

"The current regime that just gifted the Taliban with $80+ billion worth of military grade weapons wants your 9mm pistols," a viral image claims. "THINK ABOUT IT."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The claim was made amid reports of the Taliban having seized U.S. attack planes, Black Hawk helicopters and other vehicles and equipment.

But the United States has spent $88.6 billion in Afghanistan for providing security over the course of two decades, and only a fraction of it was for hardware — so there is no way that more than $80 billion in weaponry was left behind.

Meanwhile, Biden has not called for banning traditional handguns such as pistols, much less made any statements about confiscating them.

U.S. in Afghanistan

The recent U.S. involvement in Afghanistan followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, against the U.S. The attacks had been enabled by al-Qaida’s use of Afghanistan as its base. 

After the attacks, the U.S. teamed up with Afghan allies to oust the al-Qaida-aligned governing Taliban and, eventually, stand up what was intended to be a more inclusive government. 

In August 2021, as U.S. troops left, the American-backed Afghan army and government collapsed within about two weeks from the start of a Taliban offensive, and the Taliban resumed control of the country.

U.S. weapons left behind

The U.S. has allocated $88.6 billion to the Defense Department for equipment, supplies, services, training and funding for salaries, as well as facility and infrastructure repair, renovation and construction for providing security in Afghanistan.

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That’s according to the latest quarterly report, released July 30, 2021, by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. That office was created by Congress to oversee the spending.

As of June 30, 2021, there were 167 usable aircraft, including 23 A-29 attack planes and 33 UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters in Afghanistan. But there has been no full accounting of how much aircraft or other military equipment was still there in mid-August, when the Taliban regained control.

Defense expert John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, said "very little" of the $88.6 billion would have been spent on equipment. He estimated that the military equipment remaining is worth less than $10 billion, though virtually all of it could be considered under the category of weapons.

Biden not seeking to ban handguns

As for the second part of the claim, which suggests Biden wants to confiscate 9-millimeter pistols, during the 2020 presidential campaign we rated False a statement by the NRA that Biden wants to ban 9-millimeter pistols.

Biden had said people don’t need to own "military-style weapons," including pistols with 9-millimeter bullets that can hold 10 or more rounds. He was talking about banning high-capacity magazines, not the gun itself. Biden’s gun policies don’t call for outlawing traditional handguns such as pistols.

In July, we rated False a claim by House Republicans that Biden "says he wants to ban handguns." He wants to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Our ruling

A viral image says the Biden administration "gifted the Taliban with $80 billion-plus" in  military-grade weapons and "wants your 9mm pistols."

There has been no accounting of how much military equipment was left in Afghanistan after U.S. troops withdrew and the Taliban resumed control of the country. One expert says equipment left behind that could broadly be considered weapons is likely worth less than $10 billion.

Biden has not called for taking away 9-millimeter pistols from Americans.

We rate the post False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Aug. 17, 2021

Defense News, "The Taliban have access to US military aircraft. Now what happens?", Aug. 18, 2021

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, quarterly report, July 30, 2021

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, "What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction," Aug. 16, 2021

The Drive, "Dozens Of U.S.-Bought Afghan Air Force Aircraft Are Now Orphaned At An Uzbek Airfield," Aug. 17, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, Joe Biden doesn’t want to ban 9 millimeter pistols," March 18, 2020

Email, GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, Aug, 19, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

No proof Biden left Taliban $80B in weapons, or that he wants Americans’ pistols

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