Taliban kill ISIS-K leaders behind 2021 Afghanistan airport attack that killed 13 Americans, US officials say


The ISIS leader responsible for planning the 2021 attack on Kabul Airport that killed 13 US soldiers was killed by the Taliban, a Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed to CBS News late Tuesday night.

Brig. Pentagon press secretary General Patrick Ryder told CBS News in a statement that the Department of Defense could confirm he was killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan “early April,” adding that the U.S. “is not involved in this operation.” be.

This comes after senior Biden administration officials confirmed the death of the ISIS leader early Tuesday but said the White House would not release the man’s name and said he was the “mastermind” of the attack on Abbey Gate, one of the main entry points. describe for those attempting to evacuate Afghanistan during the US withdrawal.

Officials learned of his death in Afghanistan weeks ago but said it took time to confirm it.

“Experts in government are very confident that this person…was in fact the key person responsible for the.” Attack outside Hamid Karzai International Airport On August 26, 2021, a senior administration official told CBS News. More than 100 Afghan civilians were also killed in the suicide bombing.

The US was not informed of the death at the hands of the Taliban, but made the decision from its own intelligence gathering and monitoring of the ongoing threats and actors in the region.

“It was a Taliban operation. We didn’t do it with them or anything like that,” the US official said. US law prohibits military cooperation and military intelligence sharing with the Taliban.

When asked why the US government is sure this is the person responsible for the bombing and how that determination was made, the official said he could not provide any further details.

CBS News learned Monday that the Pentagon had begun notifying the families of soldiers killed in the blast. The White House asked CBS to withhold its coverage until all 13 families were notified directly.

Darin Hoover, father of Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, said he was notified by the Marine Corps on Tuesday.

“They couldn’t give me any details of the operation, but they stated that their sources are very reliable, and they have learned from several different sources that this individual was actually killed,” Hoover said in an interview Tuesday.

“This might be the kind of circumstance where we don’t normally say anything at all. But we think it’s important to offer that, especially to families who have clearly suffered the unimaginable,” the senior administration official told CBS News. “And no one expects that this will put an end to the suffering of losing a loved one.”

The news of the death of the IS leader comes Mr. Biden is starting his 2024 re-election campaign. In 2020, he had backed a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan but also posed as a leader capable of restoring governance and US foreign policy competence.

The airport attack, coupled with images of the hasty, chaotic retreat and later a meeting with the families of the deceased soldiers, which at times turned confrontational, damaged that perception and caused his overall approval rating to plummet.

Administration officials have dismissed any suggestion that the timing of the announcement coincided with the president’s re-election plans. One said the timing was purely coincidental.

President Biden swore retaliation for the attack, saying in August 2021, “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay for it.”

Three days later, however, a US military drone strike was scheduled to kill ISIS-K leaders ended up killing 10 civiliansincluding seven children, the Pentagon later admitted.

Cheryl Rex, the mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola said this incident made her question the identity of the person killed and the veracity of the government’s claims about his death.

“They told us they had already killed the person responsible and then when they came back with the report it was a civilian with his children,” Rex said. “I’d like to see you locked up. You have 13 counts of murder.”

Military leaders initially said the strike was carried out because of an imminent threat to US personnel following the airport bombing. After concluding that civilians were being killed, US Central Command called top leadership “a terrible mistake” but said they had relied on credible information about an imminent threat at the airport.

ISIS-K has regularly carried out attacks on the Taliban Regime that regained power in Afghanistan when the US-led military alliance withdrew from the country in the summer of 2021. The devastating attack on the airport came as US and other Western forces were using the facility as a coordination and staging point for the chaotic retreat.

Eleanor Watson and Arden Farhi contributed to this report.

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