Two US officials, as well as Republican Representative Ken Calvert of California, said they were briefed by national security officials, saying the suicide bomber had been released from Parwan Prison at Bagram Airport. The US controlled the base until it abandoned Bagram in early July. It handed over the prison to Afghan authorities in 2013.
Bagram’s Parwan Prison, along with the Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul, housed several hundred members of ISIS-K as well as thousands of other prisoners, hours before the Taliban captured the capital at both facilities. had taken control. A shot was fired in mid-August, a regional counter-terrorism source told Granthshala at the time. The Taliban emptied both prisons, releasing their own members who had been imprisoned, but also members of ISIS-K, an ally of the terrorist group in Afghanistan.
Eleven days later, on August 26, it was one of the prisoners who detonated a suicide bombing at the Abbey Gate, killing 13 US service members, including 11 Marines, a soldier and a sailor. He will be the last American soldier killed in Afghanistan as part of America’s longest war.
As of Tuesday, one Marine injured in the attack at Walter Reed Military Medical Center near Washington remains in critical but stable condition, the Marine Corps said in a statement. Another Marine is receiving care in a special facility, while 16 others are being treated outpatient.
Two US officials confirm the identity of the attacker
The rapid transition from released prisoner to suicide bomber highlights the dangers that Afghanistan can pose without a US military presence on the ground to monitor the latest developments in the country. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the threat to Afghanistan is currently lower than it was after the 9/11 attacks, but he warned that the conditions “could be set” for the reorganization of Al Qaeda or ISIS-K. “.
Calvert, who serves as a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on Defense, represented Marine Corps Lance Corporal Karim Nikoi, one of those killed in the suicide attack. In a statement released last month, Calvert said he was briefed by national security officials about the identity of the suicide bomber and his release from Bagram Prison.
In the statement, Calvert said that the “devastating” management of the return led to a “series of events that ended with the tragic loss of life outside Kabul Airport on August 26. Thirteen Americans, including one of my constituents, were killed because About the poor judgment and execution of the withdrawal of our army.”
The Biden administration faced widespread criticism for its withdrawal from Bagram, not only because of its decision to abandon a vast military complex that had been the center of US military operations in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, but because of the way it was carried out. It was for him too. .
Some Afghan officials said the US left the base in the middle of the night with little warning. The Pentagon insisted that communications and coordination had been made about handing over the base about 48 hours before the US departure, but the exact time of the final departure from Bagram was never given to the Afghan government.
Most of Bagram’s prisoners were terrorists
On July 1, the US handed over Bagram Air Base to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), as the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan was close to 90%.
At the time, there were about 5,000 prisoners in Bagram, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman told Granthshala. There were a few hundred criminals, but the vast majority were terrorists, the spokesman said, which includes members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS. Foreign prisoners from Pakistan, Chechnya and the Middle East were also in custody there. It was up to the Afghans to secure the complex.
As the US was handing over Bagram to the ANDSF, the Taliban ramped up their momentum across the country, claiming to control 150 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts by July 5. in rapid succession. By mid-August, the Taliban were on the doorstep of Kabul and the complete collapse of the Afghan army was almost complete.
On 15 August, the day former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani secretly fled the country, the Taliban took control of Bagram airport and Pul-e-Charkhi prison facility and reached the capital city.
In releasing the prisoners, the Taliban posed another threat in an already chaotic environment, as thousands of Afghans flocked to Kabul International Airport in an attempt to flee the country. Military officials warned of the possibility of an attack on the airport and the threat from ISIS-K, and the State Department repeatedly warned US citizens to stay away from the airport or certain gates.
The Taliban also saw ISIS-K as an enemy, despite releasing some of their numbers from Bagram airport and Pul-e-Charkhi prisons.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted at a Capitol Hill hearing last week that the Pentagon was shocked by the collapse of the Afghan army within 11 days. But in his opening statements at the hearing, Austin defended the decision to release Bagram.
“Maintaining Bagram would have required the loss of five thousand American soldiers, just to operate and defend it. And it contributed little to the mission we were assigned, and that of defending our embassy. And was to the rescue. Was about 30 miles away,” he said. “Living in Bagram – even for counter-terrorism purposes – meant being at war in Afghanistan, something the president made clear he would not do.”
Granthshala’s Katie Bo Lillis and Tim Lister contributed to this report.
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