Two Bombs Hit Kabul’s Airport, Taliban Had Warned of ISIS Terror
Aug. 26, 2021 (EIRNS)—Two bombs in and around the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul wounded or killed scores of civilians and military, late this afternoon. The Islamic State, tagged in the West as ISIS-K, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing. They provided a video of the suicide bomber that attacked the Abbey Gate at the airport and they claimed that they had killed or wounded around 160 people. Another bomb, thought to be a vehicle bomb, exploded at the nearby Baron Hotel, with major casualties. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Jr., commander of the U.S. Central Command, said that of U.S. military personnel, 12 were killed and 15 wounded. Early reports said that at least 60 wounded people were being treated at a hospital emergency room. For both bombs, RT cites “local health officials” as estimating 60 dead and 140 wounded. The Wall Street Journal cites an Afghan health official, saying that some 90 Afghan civilians were killed.
ISIS-K has been, since 2015, a spinoff of the ISIS operation in Syria. The “K” refers to the Khorasan province on Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, where the group is primarily based. They object to the Taliban, accusing them of being part of a U.S. plot. They are thought to have been founded by Hafiz Saeed Khan of Pakistan, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2016. His deputy was a former Guantanamo detainee, Abdul Rauf Aliza, also killed in a U.S. airstrike. Shahab al-Muhajir, reportedly from the Haqqani networks, seems to be the present leader. The United Nations estimates that they have 1,500-2,200 hard-core fighters. They have a history of summary executions of civilians, which helps them recruit the most jaded of youth. In 2020, they attacked the Kabul University compound, the Presidential Palace, and Kabul’s international airport. Earlier this year, they attacked a school for girls. The Taliban says it has cleared them out of Jowzjan Province, in the north, is fighting them in the northwest, and captured hundreds in Jalalabad in the east.
Earlier this week, the Taliban warned the NATO alliance of an imminent terror attack upon the Karzai Airport. The Taliban’s Information Minister Zabihullah Mujahid made this public on Aug. 25, explaining: “Over the last 20 years we have learned things and changed. We want to prove that we are not what anti-Taliban propaganda has portrayed us to be.” As a result, several European countries began wrapping up their evacuation efforts early. President Biden on Aug. 24 said: “The longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan—which is the sworn enemy of the Taliban as well—every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and Allied Forces and innocent civilians.”
By this morning, Britain’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey had reported an “imminent attack” based upon “very, very credible” intelligence, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul had issued a warning to “leave immediately” the three gates (Abbey, East and North) to the airport complex. The two bombs went off within an hour of each other in the late afternoon, Kabul time. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the suicide bomber employed an improvised explosive device. The Taliban’s Mujahid stated: “The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport, which took place in an area where security is in the hands of U.S. forces. The Islamic Emirate is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people, and evil circles will be strictly stopped.”
President Biden spoke from the East Room, today, saying that the evacuation will not stop, that there will likely be more attacks, and that “I’ve ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose, and at the moment of our choosing.”