13 U.S. Soldiers, 150+ Afghans killed in suicide bombing at Kabul Airport

13 U.S. Soldiers, 150+ Afghans killed in suicide bombing at Kabul Airport

Cameron Jacobs, School News Editor

On August 26, 2021, thirteen American soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan as they aided American citizens and Afghani SIVs waiting to be airlifted out of the country following the Taliban’s resurgence.

The attack killed at least 182 people, including the 13 United States service members and 169 Afghan civilians.

The perpetrators were members of ISIS-K, an Islamic terrorist group that is battling for political control with the Taliban in the wake of America’s hasty evacuation.

The last time that 13+ American soldiers died in a single day: just over a decade ago.

The worst part of the story though is that all of these senseless deaths could have been avoided.

In May 2020, Afghan-American diplomats and Taliban leaders signed an agreement in Doha, Qatar, pledging to maintain peace as NATO troops would be removed from Afghanistan over the following 14 months.

Unsurprisingly, peace was not maintained.

As American & NATO presence in Afghanistan dwindled over the following year, the Taliban pounced on the opportunity to regain control of the country.

Though they were rapidly gaining power back throughout the country, they were not without local opposition though.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province, ISIS-KP, or just ISIS-K is an Afghanistan-based branch of the more commonly known ISIS.

The group is known for its more violent approach to Islam than the Taliban or other insurgents and has battled for control of the country since its foundation in 2015.

Despite opposition from these smaller groups, by June 2021 the Taliban had regained a strong foothold in every single province in the country, including Kabul.

On July 8th during his press conference on the withdrawal of troops, President Biden assured Americans that “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely”.

He was wrong.

By August 14, the capital city of Kabul had been surrounded by Taliban forces, and on the 15th the Taliban became the de facto governing body of Afghanistan following the exile of President Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani, who had been president since 2014, left the city as the Taliban began to surround it. Senior advisers to the president stated he left with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and is now seeking refuge in the United Arab Emirates.

Chaos ensued in the following days as hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens, as well as NATO and Afghan soldiers, scrambled to evacuate the country before the deadline of August 31st.

Bagram Airbase, the largest US military base in the country, had been evacuated in a single day, leaving millions of dollars of US military technology and vehicles for Taliban forces to take.

Following the fall of Kabul, the airport remained the only NATO-protected public space in the country as American C-17 cargo planes, Chinook, and Blackhawk helicopters carried thousands of desperate Afghanis out of the country as they sought better lives.

As the people frantically waited to be evacuated, there was very little order among the people at the airport.

Footage has gone viral of men and women being trampled to death by masses of people, women passing their infant children through crowds to have them evacuated by US troops, even people falling to their deaths from airplanes as they desperately hoped to “stowaway” on the wings.

As the frenzy at the airport ensued, it became a perfect environment for the ISIS-K to carry out their attack.

On August 26th, with the extraction deadline only five days away, three suicide bombers detonated their explosives into crowds of people near the Abbey gate of the airport and at the Baron Hotel, which was close by.

ISIS-K gunmen opened fire into the crowds of servicemen and civilians following the blast according to Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command.

“Somebody definitely needs to be held accountable,” said Army combat veteran Richard Troy on the attack. “Whether it’s (Biden), his generals, or ground commanders in Afghanistan.”

Troy, who also is a Spanish teacher at Naugatuck High School, served two tours in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.

“If we left Bagram Airbase open and started evacuations in July, it is my opinion that we could have evacuated Americans & Afghans safely instead of the chaos that ensued at the Hamid Karzai airport.”

In his address to the nation following the attack, Biden praised the servicemembers as selfless heroes.

“They are the spine of America, the best the country has to offer,” he said, which is an interesting choice of words for someone who has been completely spineless throughout the entire evacuation process.

His lack of planning, refusal to speak with the media as US control crumbled, and clear incomprehension of the crisis that is happening allowed for a tragedy like this to occur, and it finally garnered him the media criticism he deserved.

With the most US soldiers killed in an Afghan attack since 2011, it should be apparent that Biden can no longer be showered in praise for just being “not Trump”.

The Afghan Evacuation was clearly a complex situation with multiple facets and various consequences that we will see pan out over the coming months.

But if there is one thing that we can take from this attack, Biden’s total mismanagement of the operation led to the senseless killing of hundreds of people, and the Taliban resurgence that will plunge the country of Afghanistan back into the depths we found them in 20 years earlier.