Afghanistan: Taliban kill ‘mastermind’ behind Kabul airport attack that massacred 170 people, 13 US troops


Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17
Image Source : AP/FILE Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul.

Nearly 18 months after the Taliban extremists took over the Kabul Airport and killed 170 desperate civilians and 13 US troops, the Biden administration on Tuesday claimed the mastermind behind the attack was killed.  

Initially, neither the US — nor apparently the Taliban — were aware that the mastermind was dead. He was killed during a series of battles early this month in southern Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Islamic State group’s affiliate, according to several officials.  However, US officials said Pentagon has no role in the killing of the ‘mastermind’.

But in the past few days, US intelligence confirmed “with high confidence” that the Islamic State leader had been killed, a senior administration official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. However, the administration did not reveal further details about the ‘mastermind’.

Over the weekend, the US military began to inform the US officials but declined to provide many details because of sensitivities in the intelligence gathering.

US has no role in killing

The administration official said it was their “moral responsibility” to let the victims’ families know that the “mastermind” and “person most responsible for the airport attack” had been taken off the battlefield. The official added that intelligence officials determined that the leader had “remained a key plotter and overseer” for the group. 

Several officials said the US played no role in the killing and did not coordinate at all with the Taliban. The administration official called the Taliban action “significant” and said the US only learned of the operation through its “over the horizon” intelligence capabilities.

Taliban dramatic takeover 

The fallen service members were among those screening the thousands of Afghans frantically trying on Aug. 26, 2021, to get onto one of the crowded flights out of the country after the brutal Taliban takeover. The scene of desperation quickly turned into one of horror when a suicide bomber attacked. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

The blast at Abbey Gate came hours after Western officials warned of a major attack, urging people to leave the airport. But that advice went largely unheeded by Afghans desperate to escape the country in the last few days of an American-led evacuation before the US officially ended its 20-year presence.

The Afghanistan-based offshoot of the Islamic State — called Islamic State-Khorasan — has up to 4,000 members and is the Taliban’s most bitter enemy and top military threat. The group has continued to carry out attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, especially against the country’s minority groups.

(With inputs from AP)

Also Read: Taliban conduct raid at rebel hideout, kill 8 NRF fighters in Afghanistan’s Salang district

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