Taliban Kills ISIS Mastermind of Kabul Airport Bombing, US Confirms
Islamic State Group Mastermind Behind Kabul Airport Bombing Killed by Taliban, US Officials Say
US officials have confirmed that the mastermind behind the devastating bombing at Kabul airport in August 2021, which killed 170 civilians and 13 US soldiers, has been killed by Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban. The leader of the Islamic State group responsible for the attack, whose name has not been released, was reportedly killed weeks ago, but it took time to confirm his death. US officials stated that they had determined his responsibility through intelligence gathering and monitoring of the region, and experts in the government have high confidence in this assessment, according to a senior US official.
The US learned of the leader’s death in early April, but it is unclear whether he was targeted by the Taliban or killed during ongoing fighting between the Islamic State group and the Taliban, as reported by The New York Times. The US began notifying families of the soldiers killed in the Kabul airport bombing on Monday about the IS leader’s death, and some family members have confirmed receiving the news from the Marine Corps.
The Kabul airport bombing occurred on August 26, 2021, near Abbey Gate, when a suicide bomber walked into the midst of families waiting outside the gate. The blast happened as crowds were gathering in the area, hoping to be evacuated as US troops were pulling out of Afghanistan. Among the casualties were two British nationals and the child of a British national, according to the UK government.
The US had conducted a drone strike in Kabul days after the bombing, claiming to have targeted a suicide bomber, but later admitted that the missile had killed 10 civilians, including seven children. The US had offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for the attack or the capture of ISIS-K leader Sanaullah Ghafari.
The August 2021 pull-out of US troops from Afghanistan marked the end of America’s longest war and led to the collapse of the Afghan government and military, resulting in the return of power to the Taliban. The Biden administration has faced criticism for the handling of the pull-out, and President Joe Biden directed a review that blamed President Donald Trump for the withdrawal’s deadly consequences, citing constraints imposed by Trump’s decisions, including a 2020 deal with the Taliban to end the war. While the news of the IS leader’s death is seen as a positive development, some have expressed that it does not fully deliver justice for the families of the US soldiers who lost their lives in the Kabul airport bombing.