Pentagon Reviews Events Before Attack That Killed 13 U.S. Troops in Kabul

A new Pentagon review of the events leading up to the bombing that killed 13 American service members at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August 2021, has reaffirmed earlier findings that U.S. troops could not have prevented the deadly violence.

The review’s conclusions focus on the final days and hours at Abbey Gate before the attack, which also killed as many as 170 civilians. The review provides new details about the Islamic State bomber who carried out the suicide mission, including how he slipped into the crowds trying to evacuate the capital’s airport just moments before detonating explosives.

Some Marines who were at the gate have said they identified the suspected bomber — who became known to investigators as “Bald Man in Black” — in the crowds hours before the attack but were twice denied permission by their superiors to shoot him. But the review, building on a previous investigation made public in February 2022, rejected those accusations.

The narrative of missed opportunities to avert tragedy has gained momentum over the past year among conservatives and has contributed to broader Republican criticisms of the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal and evacuation from Kabul in August 2021.

The bombing was a searing experience for the military after 20 years of war in Afghanistan. Thirteen flag-draped coffins were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and a succession of funerals were held across the country for the service members, most of them under the age of 25.

Military officials had stood by the conclusions of the earlier inquiry that a lone Islamic State suicide bomber carried out the attack and was not joined by accomplices firing into the crowd.

Back to top button