Photo: Pasbanan News Agency

Republican Congressmen Seek Clarification on 2021 Kabul Airport Attack

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES – Members of the US Congress seek clarification from the Biden Administration regarding the discrepancies between CNN and Pentagon reports on the 2021 Kabul airport attack, which killed 13 US service members and 170 Afghan citizens.

CNN reported that nine Republican members of Congress wrote a letter to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, May 7, urging him in the strongest terms to address the disparity between the US Central Command (CENTCOM) investigations and CNN’s recent report.

The deadly explosion occurred on August 26, 2021, during the US and NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan, as thousands of people rushed to Kabul airport desperately trying to flee after the Taliban swiftly took control of the country.

The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP), claimed responsibility for the attack immediately after the explosion.

In a report published by CENTCOM last month, it was indicated that the suicide bombing was not preventable at the tactical level. The report stated that the suicide bomber had not been previously identified, and there was no opportunity for US service members to engage him before the attack.

Additionally, both of the Pentagon investigations, released in February 2022 and last month, concluded that the only gunfire in the aftermath came from US and UK troops in three bursts. These bursts were nearly simultaneous and did not hit anyone.

However, the recent CNN report, released late last month, revealed that there were many more instances of gunfire than the Pentagon had ever acknowledged in the aftermath of the suicide attack.

In interviews conducted by CNN, US Marines and Afghan citizens who survived the attack revealed that some Marines reported feeling they were being shot at or had opened fire themselves. Additionally, in 2022, 19 Afghan survivors told CNN that they were shot or witnessed other Afghans being shot.

CNN quoted Dr. Sayed Ahmadi, the former head of a Kabul hospital, who stated that he and his staff had removed bullets from patients injured in the incident. He also mentioned that over 70 of the deceased individuals at their hospital had gunshot wounds.

“We still have the same questions that the very US service members captured in the CNN video had, including who was firing the rounds and whether it was the Taliban or another hostile force,” members of US Congress stated in the letter. “We therefore ask you to clarify the volume, incidence, and sources of gunfire at the scene,” they added.

The letter asks why journalists have this video footage while the Department of Defense does not. “Is there any more footage in the Department’s possession that has not yet been made public? If so, please release such footage immediately and confirm that no more video recordings exist of which the Department is aware,” they added. “The truth must come out.”

The findings of CENTCOM’s investigation also contradict claims made by some service members who believed they had a chance to take out the would-be bomber but did not get approval.

“Leaders at Abbey Gate were present, engaged, and made sound tactical decisions,” the report stated.