Taliban kill ISIS leader behind deadly Kabul airport bombing, U.S. says
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban has killed an ISIS leader suspected of planning the 2021 suicide bombing at Kabul airport that left 13 American service members and over 170 Afghans dead, U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday.
Driving the news: Biden administration officials did not identify the suspect's name, but said he was a leader of the ISIS Afghanistan chapter known as Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, and that he was killed in early April.
The big picture: The suicide bombing occurred at the Abbey Gate entrance to the Kabul airport on August 26, 2021, during the chaotic U.S.-led evacuations from Afghanistan as American troops were pulling out of the country following the Taliban takeover.
What they're saying: Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in an emailed statement late Tuesday that the U.S. was not involved in the operation, but he "can confirm that the senior ISIS-Khorasan plotter responsible for planning" the attack had been killed.
- White House spokesperson John Kirby said in an emailed statement on Tuesday night the suspect "was a key ISIS-K official directly involved in plotting operations like Abbey Gate, and now is no longer able to plot or conduct attacks."
Between the lines: ISIS-K emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 and its fighters pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader who inspired mass murder and multinational terrorism before he died during a U.S. operation in Syria in 2019.
- The group has gone on to carry out a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in public squares, hospitals and mosques after carrying out its first suicide bombing outside a bank in Jalalabad in 2015.
- Thomas West, the American special representative for Afghanistan, said last year that ISIS-K was "a common enemy" of both the U.S. and the Taliban.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.