The families of several of the 13 US service members killed in the suicide bombing attack last August 26 at the Kabul airport during the chaotic withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan are questioning the government account of the attack as set out in its recently released report.
The Pentagon’s report says that the ISIS suicide bombing at the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport was “not preventable.”
Shana Chappell is the mother of Kareem Nikoui, a 20-year-old US Marine who was killed in the attack. She said that every Marine on-site will “tell you they felt scared” because the Taliban surrounded them while they were forced out into the “wide open” where they were “sitting ducks.”
Chappell also said that she doubts the Pentagon’s assertion that all deaths were caused by a single bomb and added that she believes service members on the scene were hit with small arms fire following the bomb attack.
The Washington Post reported that several Marines at the scene stated that they were targeted with gunfire shortly after the bombing. Chappell said that she spoke to one person at her son’s funeral, who confirmed the reports of gunfire and showed her a scar received in the attack.
The parents of Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, also killed in the attack, said the troops were involved in a humanitarian effort, and they did the “absolute best that they could” under the circumstances. They added that the troops should not have been placed in those circumstances in any event.
Mark Schmitz is another parent of a killed service member who saw significant conflicts in the Pentagon report. He said that he asked the Pentagon for the metal fragments recovered from his son’s body to be privately analyzed only to be told the fragments had already been discarded.
USMC Col. C.J. Douglas said during a press conference that there is no proof of any injuries from gunfire to any US service member or Afghani. Douglas said that any conflicting reports should be accounted for by disorientation because of the bomb blast and the “fog of war.” USN Capt., on behalf of US Central Command, Bill Urban, said that the ball bearings from the bomb blast make wounds similar to those caused by small arms fire.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the government does “not pretend to understand” the grief of the families of the deceased service members. He said that the Pentagon stood by the findings of its investigation and reiterated that the attack “could not have been prevented.”