The mastermind behind the deadly suicide bombing that killed 13 US troops and approximately 170 Afghans including Taliban troops at Kabul’s airport in August 2021 has been killed in a ground assault by the Taliban, US officials have confirmed. The individual responsible for the attack had initially gone unidentified, but US intelligence recently confirmed his death with “high confidence.” The Pentagon has also confirmed that the US was not involved in the operation.
The families of the 11 Marines, soldier, and sailor who lost their lives in the bombing have been notified of the development. However, some have expressed frustration with the limited information provided by the US military regarding the circumstances of the ISIS leader’s death.
The slain leader was a “key plotter and overseer” for the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, Islamic State-Khorasan, which poses the Taliban’s biggest military threat and is their bitterest enemy. According to officials, there are up to 4,000 ISIS-K members in Afghanistan.
In the aftermath of the August attack, the Taliban imposed strict measures, including a ban on girls attending school and the exclusion of women from working for international aid and health agencies. These measures have only served to worsen relations between the Taliban and the US.
The Biden administration has come under heavy criticism for the way it handled the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, with many holding the president responsible for the chaotic manner in which it was carried out. A review of the withdrawal was conducted, examining “every aspect of this from top to bottom,” and was released earlier this month. The review largely placed the blame on former President Donald Trump.
In a coinciding announcement, President Biden announced his intention to seek a second term as president on the same day news of the ISIS leader’s death was confirmed.
The death of the mastermind behind the Kabul bombing could be seen as a victory for the Taliban, who have been seeking international recognition and legitimacy since taking control of Afghanistan in August 2021. However, the US has stated that the Taliban’s continued support for the Islamic State-Khorasan is a significant concern and a potential obstacle to any future diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Taliban have denied that they had any involvement in the August attack, but many experts believe that the group has close ties to the Islamic State-Khorasan and may have even provided some assistance in the planning and execution of the bombing.
Meanwhile, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate under the Taliban’s rule. The ban on girls attending school and women working for international aid and health agencies has been met with widespread condemnation from the international community. The US and other countries have called on the Taliban to respect the human rights of all Afghan citizens, but it remains to be seen whether the group will take any significant steps towards meeting these demands.
As for the Biden administration, the release of the review into the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has done little to quell criticism of the president’s handling of the situation. Many are calling for further investigations and accountability for those responsible for the chaotic and deadly evacuation process. Biden’s announcement that he intends to seek a second term as president has also been met with mixed reactions, with some questioning whether he is the right person to lead the country through its current challenges.