America must never forget the Taliban’s role in aiding and abetting the al-Qaeda terrorists who perpetuated the most brutal attack in our nation’s history. That is why I introduced a simple, yet crucial, piece of legislation in the House of Representatives, the Prohibiting Assistance to the Taliban Act, to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used to fund the Taliban in any way. We must reaffirm our commitment to defeating terrorism wherever it appears and to preserving the security and integrity of the homeland.

Perhaps with time, it has become easier for some to forget the magnitude of evil caused by the Taliban. As someone who stood amid the rubble of Ground Zero along with Florida Task Force 2, I will never forget the assault on our freedom and our values, the innocent lives lost, the families torn apart, and a nation wounded. I will never forgive the terrorists who attacked our homeland, nor will I ever forget the evil regimes and groups who helped kill our people on Sept. 11. 

With our botched withdrawal from Afghanistan guaranteeing the Taliban’s revival, it is especially troubling to see just how many people we have in the upper echelons of political power that are perfectly willing to forget history’s lessons and give the Taliban political and economic legitimacy. Already, we are facing calls for giving the Taliban economic assistance and foreign aid, some even going as far as calling for recognition of the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government.

There are no excuses for why American taxpayers should be footing the bill for the Taliban’s reckless ideology and their militant tactics deployed to implement their radical agenda. The murder of thousands upon thousands of Americans are on their hands. They are the antithesis of everything we hold dear in America and the values we profess to defend around the world. 

The Taliban speaks of inclusivity, yet drives women away from any positions of power. It says it will not allow Afghanistan to harbor terrorism, yet names a renowned terrorist as Interior Minister. It says it will not punish those who worked alongside American forces, but reports confirm the Taliban is killing family members of those who have aided us.

This is not — and should never be — a Democrat versus Republican issue or viewed as a support-or-indictment on the policy agenda of any one president or party. Instead, the central question is whether or not we believe it is permissible for a single taxpayer dollar to be used to support an organization intent on deploying militant tactics to implement a reckless, fundamentalist ideology. For me, the answer to that question is simple but unequivocal “no.”

As we somberly commemorate the fallen victims and heroes of Sept. 11 this week, we must also remember that America’s constant battle for freedom and liberty is a task that does not end. We are also called to be thankful for the fraternity and alliance of the nations of the world who have fought for the defense of freedom alongside our brave men and women in uniform, who died with our own on that tragic day, and who continue to support the mission of keeping the world’s peace.

To all our servicemembers, those currently active duty and our veterans who have previously served this great country, I cannot thank you enough for your dedication and sacrifice. 

Because of your service and sacrifice, millions of Afghan girls and women were able to attend school, work independently, and hold high office. You inspired an entire generation to work towards, and fight for, democratic reforms. You gave people hope after decades of butchery and brutality. You showed what can be possible when we keep evil forces such as the Taliban away from power. You protected our shores, ensuring that al-Qaeda would not be able to attack the United States. You saved lives, kept families together, and believed in the goodness of the human heart.

Thank you for your service, for what you do, and for what you will continue to do for our country and the world. My commitment, and that of my colleagues who have joined me on this important legislation, is to continue squeezing the radical terrorist organizations who have brought us to this point. That includes blocking our taxpayer dollars from being used to fund the terrorist operations you have sacrificed so much to fight.

Carlos Gimenez represents Florida’s 26th District. He formerly served as a firefighter for 25 years in the City of Miami.

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