LONDON: A Daesh suicide bomber who killed nearly 200 people in an attack on people trying to enter Kabul airport as international troops withdrew was released from prison by the Taliban just days before the attack.
Two unnamed US officials and Republican Rep. Ken Calvert told CNN that the bomber was freed from Parwan prison at Bagram Airbase 11 days before carrying out the attack.
Over 170 Afghans and 13 US service members were killed in the attack, which targeted crowds of Afghans and others trying to flee the country as international troops withdrew.
Two US officials confirmed the bomber’s identity as Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri, whom Isis-K — Daesh’s Afghanistan affiliate — named while claiming responsibility for the attack.
Al-Loghri was held by Afghan authorities in a prison in Bagram that held hundreds of Isis-K members, many of whom were released once the base was taken by the Taliban earlier this year. Thousands of other prisoners were also released by the group at that time.
Asked by a reporter whether the Biden administration should have done more to secure Bagram, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she could not speak to the new report, adding: “I’d point you to the intelligence community.”
She said: “I’d remind you that as it relates to Bagram, there was a decision made to close Bagram because it wasn’t strategically in the interest of the United States and our national security to keep it open with 5,000 troops there protecting Bagram at a distance that was far away from the capital and where people from the embassy would be evacuated. So that was the broad-based decision.”
Despite the attack, top American military officials have said the terrorist threat from Afghanistan is currently lower than it was after the 9/11 attacks that spurred the US-led invasion of the country, but a future resurgence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan is a distinct possibility.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said: “It’s a real possibility in the not-too-distant future — six,12, 18, 24, 36 months, that kind of timeframe — for a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or ISIS, and it’s our job now, under different conditions, to protect American citizens against attacks from Afghanistan.”