yes, he really said that
With the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks just weeks away, former President Donald Trump went on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's show on Thursday and said that while Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden "had one hit, and it was a bad one," two people killed during his time in office — Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian military chief Qasem Soleimani — were "bigger by many, many times than Osama bin Laden."
Trump called into Hewitt's program after at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in an attack outside the Kabul airport; the Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, later claimed responsibility. Trump, however, told Hewitt that he eradicated the terrorist group, saying when he became president, "we took out ISIS in a very short period of time, wiped them out. And they were gone 100 percent."
The U.S., he said, "took out the founder of ISIS, al-Baghdad, and then of course Soleimani. Now just so you understand, Soleimani is bigger by many, many times than Osama bin Laden. The founder of ISIS is bigger by many, many times, al-Baghdadi, than Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden had one hit, and it was a bad one, in New York City, the World Trade Center. But these other two guys were monsters. They were monsters."
During bin Laden's time as the leader of Al Qaeda, before U.S. special forces killed him in 2011 during the Obama administration, the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for several attacks that left hundreds dead, including the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
Trump also commented on the Taliban effectively taking control of Afghanistan, telling Hewitt he "had it in perfect shape." In February 2020, Trump reached a deal with the Taliban, agreeing that the United States would exit Afghanistan by May 2021 and release 5,000 Taliban prisoners; in turn, the Taliban would not let Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorist groups and would release 1,000 of its prisoners. Trump, who pulled thousands of troops out of Afghanistan, told Hewitt he would have "bombed the hell" out of the Taliban had they violated the agreement, and "they never would have come into Kabul. And they just wouldn't do it." Read more of Trump's remarks here.